0 Riders to jump for joy at high-tech venue

The Hong Kong Jockey Club is sparing no expense in its meticulous planning for the Olympics this August, pouring HK$22 million into its dressage and jumping arena at the Hong Kong Olympic Equestrian Venue in Sha Tin.

With a perfect all-weather surface fit for 99 percent of the events, footing at the 105 by 75 meter main competition arena is made up of five layers of soil imported from China and Europe.

Designed by German engineers, the footing's top layers are bonded by a mixture of sand and quartz complemented with geo-textiles and fibers. Underneath, a perforated rubber mat is sandwiched between small and large granite chips.

Capable of draining 100 millimeters of rainwater an hour, the footing sits atop the old Hong Kong Sports Institute southwest football pitch, utilizing an environment- friendly drainage system that saves both money and materials, said Jockey Club project manager Julian Wright.

"This means you can restart competition very quickly after the rain starts to subside. The fiber and how the footing is put together allows for a little bit of spring so show jumping horses can get a grip, and it also allows enough flexibility for horses to twist," he said.

In all, 16,000 tonnes of sand have been used at the HK$1.2 billion venue with 13 training areas sharing a common design with the 18,000-seat main competition arena.

Aside from construction, transport, veterinarian, and waste disposal duties for the Games, the club has also brought in a laser-guided hydraulic leveler to build and maintain surfaces.

The HK$1 million hardware keeps a 0.5 percent gradient on either side of the arena for surface drainage.

With the events scheduled in the evening - for cooler temperatures and simultaneous broadcasts in Europe - the open-air arena is also high-definition broadcast friendly, illuminated by four sets of 40-meter floodlights each fitted with 100 lightbulbs.

Meticulously angled to provide maximum lighting and to reduce the risk of horses getting spooked by their own shadows, even the color of the arena's sand is tested to ensure it complements lighting conditions.

The arena is nearing completion with the arrival of custom-made jumps from Europe, HK$10 million in banners and flags and HK$1 million in flowers and plants.

The first air-conditioned indoor equine training area is only a stone's throw from the Olympic venue's stables and warm- up areas.

Source:- The Standard

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