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Millions Refunded After Rare Occurrence

Published: October 31, 2016 2:16 pm ET

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If you’ve been around the races enough, you’ve seen recalls and ‘no contests’ for all types of different reasons, no matter how random. Have you heard the one about the rake that triggered a no-contest and millions in refunded wagers?

It’s a little hard to fathom, but it’s true.

An article by the South China Morning Post explains that the incident occurred on Wednesday, October 26 at the Happy Valley racecourse. The piece states that a maintenance worker’s rake was stored in a specific area in the starting gate, but in a slightly different way than usual.

The rake caused eight of the 12 starting barriers to not open, and thus a no-contest had to be called, which was the first in the 132-year history of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The incident caused the track to abandon a ‘jockey challenge’ that Happy Valley was in the midst of.

The scrapping of the jockey challenge was surely unfortunate to all involved, but the track is sure to feel the sting of the HK$126-million ($27.1 million Canadian) in wagers that had to be refunded.

Rakes are commonly used at the Thoroughbred track to manicure the turf where the wheels of the starting gate have sat.

“All of our relevant teams are looking at our operational procedures and, needless to say, track maintenance equipment will no longer be placed in a position similar to the one which caused Wednesday night’s problem,” Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges was quoted as saying.

(With files from the South China Morning Post)

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