Pro-Beijing firebrand Junius Ho took to Facebook last night to say he was “astonished” to learn last night’s horse races at Happy Valley were called off because protesters had threatened to disrupt the event because a horse he co-owns was running.
Ho’s social media missive came hours after the Jockey Club — the city’s only legal betting outfit, and owner of the city’s two big race courses — announced that the traditional Wednesday night races would be canceled “in view of the imminent threat to the safety of racegoers, jockeys and employees, and to the welfare of racehorses.”
In his statement, Ho said: “We were astonished by such announcement. Indeed, a lot of people are deeply regretted about such decision being taken and are worried about the negative impact that may bring to Hong Kong Racing and Hong Kong as an international city as well as a leader in the horse racing world.”
The decision to cancel last night’s race came amid reports that pro-democracy protesters were going to target the Happy Valley racecourse because “Hong Kong Bet” — a horse Ho partly owns — would be racing.
According to an Apple Daily report in their Monday racing section, Hong Kong Bet was going to race in a “class two race,” which typically takes place at the end of the night. However, the newspaper noted that, in a rare move, the race featuring Hong Kong Bet had been moved to the first of the night, as the Jockey Club wanted it to finish as soon as possible so that the remaining races wouldn’t be affected.
The decision to cancel last night’s races altogether came after the lawmaker posted a Facebook live video urging people to join a “clean up” action to tear down the city’s numerous Lennon Walls, displays of colorful Post-It notes and fliers bearing messages of support for pro-democracy protesters.
Ho said he hoped at least 30,000 people — broken up into groups of 100 — would take part in “cleaning up” about 90 areas damaged by “thugs” and “cockroaches,” a term used by police and pro-Beijing supporters to describe anti-government demonstrators.
By the way, if you’re thinking Hong Kong Bet is a supremely unimaginative name for a horse in a sport known for fun, outlandish names, we’re with you. To be fair, the horse’s Chinese name — 天祿 — which loosely translates to “Unicorn,” is a lot better.