Horses competing in the Olympic Games in August are to be pampered in six-star, luxury stables complete with play rooms and warm and cold showers, equestrian officials in Hong Kong confirmed Wednesday. ( dpa )
The stables, which are due to be handed over in May to the Hong Kong Equestrian Committee, also feature automatic drink dispensers, air conditioning and rubber walls and flooring to prevent horses accidentally injuring themselves.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has spent about 800 million Hong Kong dollars (102 million US dollars) on facilities in Shatin and Beas River in Hong Kong, where the equestrian events of the Beijing games will be held in August.
The Jockey Club's Olympic stables manager Tony Shea said the stables had already been visited by representatives from several countries, who had all agreed that the facilities were excellent.
Shea said it was the first time "rolling boxes" - play rooms for horses - had been included in an Olympic equestrian venue.
The entrances to each of the four specially-built stable blocks will also feature an air curtain to stop hot air entering from outside, to keep the stable's temperature steady at 23 degrees Celsius.
It is hoped the extra effort being made to control temperatures will ease any worries equestrian teams have about Hong Kong's hot humid weather in the summer months.
Earlier this year, the Swiss dressage team pulled out of the Games, after its highest ranking rider, Silvia Ikle, said she would not be taking her mount Salieri CH, claiming because she was worried "the weather conditions could be dangerous for the health of horses."
Hong Kong rejected the Swiss concerns, saying stringent measures would be in place to protect the 200 horses that were to take part the event.
The former British-colony is around 3,200 kilometres south of Beijing and has a sub-tropical climate, which brings high temperatures and humidity, storms and even typhoons during the summer months.