Cloths Under Saddles; Froth Above Riddles
Brand and Saddle Cloth are different means with similar principles.
The square shaped cloth under the saddle on which colored numbers on colored background denoting the year of import and marking the brand number of the bearer are displayed.
According to Track Work Regulations published by HKJC:
2002-07-19 Saddle Cloth Number
According to Mr Shum Kut Shing (Lo Kut)’s《30 Year In Racecourse》:
SKYMASTER was assigned a number of forty-nine.
Each new horse arrived Hongkong has to be branded on in its hip.
SKYMASTER was branded (JC / O49),of which JC were the initial of HKJC (Jockey Club).
“O”, the alphabet denoting the year of arrival and the horse was number 49.
1941, as the year of arrival, L was used.
By memory, prefix A or B were not used by HKJC during the war.
When racing was resumed, M was used. Therefore,
1947, as the year of arrival, M was used.
1948, as the year of arrival, N was used.
1949, as the year of arrival, O was used.
According to Mr Greenstreet Kan’s《Anecdotes of Horse Racing》:
Before the war, there was no saddle cloth bearing the brand number of the horse in the morning work-out.
As their numbers could be clearly identifiable,such system could enhance the prosperity of Hong Kong racing.
However, saddle cloths were not favorable at the very beginning, or even considered as offensive by several stables.
Then their power some what like insider authority could be lost.
These people with tunnel vision, made the racing community to take up a trend to secretly exercising their horses in the dark without wearing assigned number cloths.
According to Mr Felix Cheung’s article《Anecdotes of Horse Racing》:
Each of them is given a brand accordingly.
Started from number 001, an uniformed prefix of alphabet is assigned for each racing season, such as the A series, B series of horses.
But not all the 26 alphabets are used.
As E and F are so similar in shape, only prefix E is used.
I and 1 are so similar in shape, no I series is used at all.
O and 0 are so close that O is not used,
same as U and V and those alphabets after. Then, A is used again.
Such cycle is only repeated after more than 10 years, yet racing span of each horse is not more than 8 years.
So no same brand numbers could be used at the same time.
According to Mr Greenstreet Kan’s《Notes of Horse Names》:
<, >, and * are used as prefix to distinguish the alphabetical cycles.
He put (*S12l) = CO-TACK which is not the same used by HKJC, such as (AS121) and (S121) BEST TANGO.
According to Mr Peter Yuen who has expertise in racing statistic and information:
If counting after the war, Ｆcloth (57/58, 72/73)、Ｏcloth (48/49, 61/62) and Ｒcloth(50/51, 63/64) had been used.
Saddle Cloths for training are not the same as those for racing.
The latter is the cloth under the saddle on which number (and sometimes adjacent to the horse‘s name) denoting post position or race-card number is displayed.
2014-06-28 notice published by HKJC:
Trainer J Size was fined a sum of $5,000 for breaching the Track Work Regulations as a result of GRAND PLUS (S66) wearing the incorrect saddle cloth this morning at track work.
It was established that GRAND PLUS wore the saddle cloth allocated to GOLDEN ADDICTION (P234).
Acknowledgment to HKJC Official for offering relevant records and photos.