OUR MEMORIES
Starts


 

The Beginnings Of The Means

 

‘Gate’ and ‘Barrier’ are usual terminologies affiliating with the start of a horse race.

 

 

The means Of The Beginnings

 

1802-1848, Lord George Bentinck devised the flag start, race card, paddock parade, and much of modern race-course practice.

 

There have been at least 4 methods and/or devises deployed in the history of Hong Kong horse racing:

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

1860s Flag Start

 

A starter, standing alongside the jockeys and horses, dropped his flag to signal the start.

 

Photos shown races started by a Flag starter without rope or net.

 

 

1880s Rope Start

 

The prototype consisted of a single or multiple strand of wire or rope at about the height of the horse’s head that was attached to a spring at either end.

 

When the device was activated the barrier sprang up and away from the horses.

 

A photo shown 18 runners about to break loose from rope or ropes that marks the starting line.

 

 

1920s Net Start

 

Before each start. race horses are arranged in a straight line, in front of a virtual “gateway” stopping the contenders.

 

A person, the “gatekeeper” and also the ‘starter‘ is responsible to bounce up the net.

 

Once such ‘net’ was about to be bounced up, experienced jockeys rode near it and immediately pushed to the first.

 

It has been described by a colloquial term as “strike gate”.

 

In those era, “gate”, was a net like volleyball net with a long bamboo tiring at both ends, horses were stopped before such net which could be pull up or bounce by springing-device.

 

For short distance races, the first “strike gate” successful horse could also be the winner, most likely.

 

1938-02-24 LIBERTY BAY forged ahead of the others in approaching the gate and was caught under the chin as the gate went up, lifting it up on its haunches.

 

 

1950s Gate Start

 

1959, a three or four stall starting gate, set on the turf next to the site of current Moon Koon Restaurant at Happy Valley, for training purpose.

 

1966, a gate model with no supporting wheels and had to be set on the ground for each race by process of ‘Pile-driving’ installation.

 

1979, Wood’s Starting Gate had 12 stalls. The front doors were imported from overseas countries while the metal stand was made and assembled in Hong Kong.

 

1979, ‘Old Gate’ was temporarily used to replace Wood’s Starting Gate which sometimes had unexpected problems of incorrect open.

 

1989, Wood’s Starting Gate installed in Hong Kong by Hong Kong United Dockyard.

 

1999, a 16-stall Steriline Gate imported from Australia and installed at Sha Tin between October and November.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Devices and methods mentioned as above are deployed to ensure a fair start to races.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

Acknowledgement to Information provided by Mr. H. M. Chan, Operations & Maintenance Officer (Starting Gate Team) of the Racing Operations Department on 3 November 2008.

 

 

EXTERNAL LINK

 

Starting Barrier – Wikipedia

 

Starting Gate – Wikipedia

 

 

 


 

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