New restrictions on horse movement between Australia and Hong Kong threaten Australian participation in international events in the Asian racing capital.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has expressed its disappointment at the decision by the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to suspend horse movement pending a review of biosecurity protocols related to the Equine Disease Free Zone between Hong Kong and Conghua on the Chinese mainland.
The DAWR has informed the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department it intends to suspend horse movements to Australia from October 2.
The HKJC is scheduled to open the Conghua Training Centre in the third quarter of 2018.
The club said the implications include:
* Horses cannot be transported directly from Hong Kong to Australia for participation in racing events or for retirement purposes.
* Australian horses will not be permitted to travel to compete in Hong Kong's international races.
* Hong Kong horses transported to Australia via New Zealand will require 180 days residency in New Zealand.
Horse movements to and from Hong Kong in relation to other countries are unaffected with horses from every jurisdiction other than Australia still be able to travel and compete in Hong Kong under the same conditions as have previously existed.
Horses bought in Australia for permanent export to Hong Kong are not affected by the DAWR decision.
"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," HKJC executive director, Racing Authority Andrew Harding said.
""DAWR's review of the EDFZ 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."
The HKJC statement said the DAWR was formally notified in March, 2016 of trial horse movements utilising the EDFZ.
In total 19 horses have been moved over an 18-month period.
The movements were planned and conducted with the supervision of the AFCD, Chinese Mainland veterinary authorities (Guangdong CIQ and the Ministry of Agriculture) and the Customs and Immigration authorities of both jurisdictions.
"Given that the Australian chief veterinary officer did not express any concerns 18 months ago when he was officially informed about the first trial it is impossible to see how DAWR can now say that these trials are the basis for imposing an immediate ban on direct imports from Hong Kong to Australia," Harding said.
The HKJC hosts runners from all over the world at its International meeting in December
Chautauqua is the last Australian horse to win a major race in Hong Kong, taking out the Group One Chairman's Sprint in May last year.