The Olympic stabling at the Hong Kong Olympic Venue (Sha Tin) was under the spotlight on this week when over 70 local media visited the complex to view the facilities that will greet the Olympic horses in less than four months' time.
The first Olympic horses will arrive in Sha Tin on 26 July, but the Hong Kong media had the chance of a sneak preview and guided tour of the stables by the man who knows the complex better than anyone, Olympic stables manager Tony Shea.
Shea, who has been with The Hong Kong Jockey Club for over 15 years, pointed out the safety and security aspects of the air-conditioned stables, which will be housing horses worth billions of dollars during the Olympic period. Every effort has been made to ensure the comfort and security of these valuable animals.
Horse welfare is a top priority, so the horses - and their grooms - have been provided with every possible amenity to ensure a spacious and comfortable living environment. The larger than Olympic standard stalls measure in at 3.6 x 3.6 metres and, in keeping with the green theme of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, are constructed from engineered wood made of sustainable bamboo and the rubber flooring is made from recycled tyres. Also, the air-conditioning and lighting systems use 30% less energy than conventional installations.
Shea also briefed the media on the Club's stable waste recycling project, under which all Olympic stable waste will be sent to a vermicomposting plant where millions of earthworms will transform the stable waste into environmentally friendly, organic fertiliser.
Shea pointed out the security features in the stabling complex, including CCTV cameras in every barn and special sensors on the main doors to add another layer of security to this restricted access zone.
Shea, who has worked in both Beas River and Sha Tin and will be taking over as quarantine stables manager after the Games, told the media that the Olympic and Paralympic horses will be living in the lap of luxury.
"These stables are not just five-star accommodation, they're six-star", he said, adding that it was the first time "rolling boxes" - play rooms for horses - have been included in an Olympic equestrian venue.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club, which has invested over US$150 million in venues and facilities for the Olympic equestrian events, has been designated "Outstanding Contributor, Beijing 2008 Olympic Equestrian Events" by the Beijing Organising Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad (BOCOG).