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Macau Jockey Club ‘refuses to compensate’ owners who want to retire their horses

While assistance will be given to owners wanting to send horses overseas to race, those preferring to retire their mounts claim they’ve been overlooked, reports say.

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The Macau Jockey Club (MJC) is offering financial assistance to racehorse owners intending to transport their animals outside of Macao, but is refusing to compensate those who want to retire their horses after the SAR’s racing industry shuts down at the end of March, TDM reports.

A statement from Macao’s racehorse owners said the compensation offer was only relevant to horses that would continue racing abroad, claiming the club had “overlooked the fact that the majority of horse owners have already lost interest and decided to retire their horses” after 31 March – the club’s last day of operations.

It is not clear what retirement in this case would look like, with no indication given as to whether the horses would remain in Macao indefinitely, put out to pasture elsewhere, or be euthanised without leaving the SAR.

[See more: What will happen to the racehorses after the Macau Jockey Club closes?]

The MJC reportedly told racehorse owners, in a letter dated 21 February, that they should have “[carried] out their own risk assessments” before purchasing new animals, and said that the club’s dire financial position, which had always been made public, was a clear indication that the company could close down at any time.

However, Macao’s horse owners have repeatedly insisted they bought new horses to race under the assurance that the MJC would continue operating. Some owners told TDM that the club had even pressured them into buying new animals – noting that rumours of the club’s pending closure had been denied up until recently.

The owners also claimed to TDM that the MJC’s financial disclosures had not been detailed enough to base decisions on.

[See more: What’s next for the Macau Jockey Club?]

The MJC has offered to pay owners 200,000 patacas for each horse sent to certain jurisdictions abroad, or 30,000 patacas if the animals are sent to mainland China. 

Owners who do not wish to send their horses outside of Macao have asked the MJC to evaluate each horse based on age, racing ability, and other factors, then compensate them accordingly.

According to TDM, the MJC’s letter said its financial situation prevented it from doing that, and reiterated that all horses must be removed from the racecourse by 31 March “at the very latest.” However, it also stated that the club would continue to “provide adequate staff members to care for the horses until they are transported out of Macao” after all racing operations cease on 1 April.

[See more: Five things you may not know about the history of the Macau Jockey Club]

The club has previously said that, until the horses were relocated, owners must pay stabling fees of HK$8,000 a month. However, owners who transfer full ownership of the horses to the MJC would not be required to make any payments. 

The owners have repeatedly denounced the club’s shock decision to end its operations without any prior discussion with industry stakeholders such as themselves, trainers or jockeys.

They said that if an agreement cannot be reached, they will seek help from the gaming watchdog and the Legislative Assembly, TDM reports.

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