Happy Valley: will be closed for nearly seven months next yearPICTURE: Getty Images
Betting set for hit as
Happy Valley refurbished
Hong Kong: Racing could suffer a substantial hit to betting with up to ten fixtures set to be transferred from Happy Valley to the less popular dirt track at Sha Tin next year to allow major drainage works to take place.
The project to replace three areas of the Happy Valley surface are due to start in April next year and, although some of the construction will take place during the two-month off-season, the track is scheduled to be out of action until mid-October.
The closure will be a blow to Hong Kong Jockey Club officials with betting turnover regularly exceeding HK$1 billion (£85m) at Happy Valley while similar meetings at Sha Tin draw around HK$60 million less.
During the closure, a tunnel will be built between the forecourt of the grandstand and the infield, and a significant upgrade of lighting and work on other facilities is also planned.
"We did budget lower for the new year, and I'd expect a drop in the magnitude of three to four per cent for those meetings," HKJC director of racing Bill Nader told the South China Morning Post.
"I don't think it will be excessive, but I think there will be a slight reduction in turnover. The occasional dirt meeting can hold its own, but a constant diet of dirt races on Wednesday nights, we haven't experienced that in Hong Kong - at least not for some time."
Races can also be run on the Sha Tin turf at night, and Nader raised the prospect of races taking place on both the inner track and course proper although the grass track's usage would have to be minimal given its already high workload.