“DAWR’s review of the EDFZ (Equine Disease Free Zone) must be carried out swiftly so that regular horse movements from Hong Kong to Australia can be resumed in a timely manner and we are in discussions both directly with DAWR and through the Australian Consulate-General to ensure that this occurs. Furthermore, the Club’s stable operations team will work with Owners to find alternative retirement locations during this period.” As it stands, Australian horses will not be permitted to travel to compete in Hong Kong’s international races in December.

Hong Kong horses transported to Australia via New Zealand will require 180 days residency in New Zealand. The Hong Kong Jockey Club says that horse movements to and from Hong Kong in relation to other countries are unaffected by this DAWR decision. Horses from every jurisdiction other than Australia will still be able to travel and compete in Hong Kong on exactly the same conditions as have previously existed. The proposed DAWR suspension will prevent the permanent relocation of Hong Kong horses to Australia which has been commonplace in recent years.​

Many Hong Kong horses, including the highly rated sprinter Redkirk Warrior (Notnowcato) who runs at Flemington on Saturday possibly en route to the $10,000,000 The Everest (1200m), have resumed their racing careers in Australia. A ban would also impact the desirable retirement of Hong Kong horses to Australia - a key welfare platform now of most racing jurisdictions. Hong Kong racing champions Good Ba Ba (Lear Fan), Bullish Luck (Royal Academy) and the Australian bred Silent Witness (El Moxie) are currently housed at the Living Legends farm in Melbourne.

The announcement reflects the DAWR’s concern about the increased movement of horses between the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s racecourse at Sha Tin and the club’s new training centre at Conghua in mainland China. The DAWR spokesperson said: “Australia has advised the AFCD that horse importation directly from Hong Kong into Australia will be suspended from 2 October 2017.’ The AFCD is the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.​

“Because of the changes Hong Kong is implementing by allowing horses to move to and from Conghua, in the People’s Republic of China, the department asked the AFCD to provide detailed information about its official controls over horses moving to and from the Conghua facility. The AFCD has not yet demonstrated that it can still manage the biosecurity risks that may arise from these movements,” the DAWR spokesperson said. The DAWR is awaiting a joint application from the AFCD in Hong Kong and Chinese authorities which the racing industry would hope would satisfy the Australian authorities. The department spokesman said: “A successful assessment of the joint application would allow Australia to reconsider future imports of horses from Hong Kong.” Hong Kong has, until now, met the strict import requirements of the Australian government and been an approved country for a number of years.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that horses may be moved between Conghua and Sha Tin without risk but the DAWR says that it is not within the authority of the Hong Kong Jockey Club to declare a ‘safe’ corridor of transport. “Only competent authorities capable of providing official certification over the health status of animals and their products engage bilaterally to discuss such matters. This matter has been officially discussed between Australia and Hong Kong’s competent authority, the AFCD.​

GOVERNMENT BANS DIRECT TRANSPORT OF HORSES FROM HONG KONG 

In a major blow to Australian and Hong Kong horse racing, a Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) spokesperson has today confirmed the that direct transport of horses from Hong Kong to Australia will be suspended from 2 October this year. The DAWR has informed the Hong Kong.

 

Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) that it intends to suspend horse movements to Australia from 2 October 2017 pending a review of the biosecurity controls related to the Equine Disease Free Zone (EDFZ) between Hong Kong and Conghua in the Chinese Mainland. The ruling, if it remains in place, will prevent horses from either jurisdiction competing in the other’s feature races and prevent Hong Kong horses from being retired or re-trained in Australia. 

 

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has expressed it’s disappointment at the decision and called for a swift resolution of the matter. “This is a highly prejudicial action and it is at odds with the substantial economic relationship between the racing, breeding and wagering sectors of Australia and Hong Kong, which has existed for many years,” said the HKJC’s Mr Andrew Harding, executive director, Racing Authority.​

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