The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s new Conghua Training Centre (CTC) on the Chinese Mainland has opened new frontiers for the organisation. As a result, the Club has called on a number of its most experienced Hong Kong-based managers to make the move to Conghua, as well as recruiting well-qualified field leaders from abroad, as CTC becomes another extension of the Club’s Racing Operations model.
“The overall objective is to have a workforce that can instill confidence in trainers and in Owners,” says Ms Christina Chan, the Club’s Head of Human Resources Operations for Racing and Conghua. “This is a dual-site model – Conghua will operate as another aspect of what we already have in place in Hong Kong. As a result, many of our most experienced staff have become involved in the CTC project.”
Among those that are now based primarily in Conghua are Director of Racing Capital Projects John Ridley, the Club’s long-standing former Director of Racing Operations, as well as Jackson Wong, now the Racing Operations and Tracks Manager at CTC, reporting to the Head of Dual Site Operations and Owners Services, KL Cheng. Also taking Conghua into their remit is Head of Veterinary Clinical Services Dr. Chris Riggs, while experienced Stables Operations Manager Tony Shea will also move to CTC.
“Jackson has come through the system in Hong Kong and was deployed to Conghua two years ago,” Ms. Chan said. “He has recruited a local team and will oversee the tracks and stables operation functions. On the veterinary side, we have identified a senior expatriate vet to take charge and a second experienced expatriate vet to support him. The master farrier has also been recruited from overseas.
“We have a good overlay of overseas experience and Hong Kong experience managing the local workforce, so Owners and trainers can feel comfortable that the Conghua workforce is in the right hands.”
Also important for the nine trainers who will switch to a dual-site operation next year is their support staff.
“The nine trainers have already appointed their assistants, to be known as Conghua ATs,” Ms. Chan said. “These were recruited from existing AT IIs, head lads or senior work riders in Hong Kong. Each trainer also has a head lad and a work rider recruited from Hong Kong, while we are also hiring five or six expert work riders from abroad who will be shared between the trainers.”
When CTC opens in August 2018, a workforce of over 400 will be in place. Of those, 150 will work in stable operations, including almost 40 work riders, nine travelling grooms and more than 100 stables assistants.
“To find and train the right people, recruitment started over two years ago. It has been a long process,” Ms Chan said. “We needed to identify venues in China to conduct our training for the stable workforce. To support the recruitment of work riders and stable assistants the Club entered into a partnership with the Guangdong Sports Bureau in Huangcun, near Guangzhou, a facility similar to the Hong Kong Sports Institute, and a riding school in Huizhou.”
The biggest early challenge facing the Racing Operations and Human Resources departments lay in recruiting work riders from the Chinese Mainland, while recruitment for stables assistants is now underway.
For work riders, there has been a desire to identify both experienced and novice candidates to eventually work at CTC.