Scott Taylor, Deseret News
A mother takes her child's photo in front of three decorated life-size horse statues at the Hong Kong Olympic Piazza. Hong Kong will welcome 277 horses from 42 countries for Olympic equestrian events.

HONG KONG — You can forgive Hong Kong its increased horse sense this summer.

Despite being more than 1,200 miles south of Beijing and the bulk of the 2008 Summer Olympics, Hong Kong is champing at the bit to play host to the Games' equestrian events.

In addition to the arrival of Olympic equestrian participants and officials, Hong Kong will welcome 277 horses from 42 countries — the first 32 horses arrived Saturday at the Hong Kong International Airport from the Netherlands, Belgium and Korea.

Once at the airport after their global travels, the horses will be treated to temporary stalls, weighing facilities and fine-water sprays — to help them adapt to Hong Kong's heat and humidity — before getting the once-over from veterinarians.

With the city hosting the equestrian competitions, Hong Kong is heavy into horses this summer. The Hong Kong Museum of History is hosting a special exhibit, "Heavenly Horse: The Horse in Chinese Art and Culture." Not to be outdone, the Hong Kong Museum of Art's summer special is "Story of the Horse."

The horse theme is prevalent in advertising and promotional signage throughout the city.

And scattered throughout the city of 7 million in key public and tourist locations are 18 life-size horse statues, the product of the Hong Kong Jockey Club's "Horses Across Hong Kong" campaign.

The colorful statues incorporate elements of art, sports and the community. Three stand guard next to the Beijing Olympics mascots at the five-ring entrance of the city's soon-to-be-opened Hong Kong Olympic Piazza, which is located under the shadow of the Bell Tower and at the edge of Victoria Harbor.

Hong Kong's involvement in the Beijing Olympics is evidence of the effort to make the Summer Games belongnot just to the capital city but to all of China, including the Special Administrative Region (SAR) of Hong Kong.

The 1,200-mile distance between Beijing and Hong Kong is nearly double the 710 miles that are between Beijing and Qingdao, the site of the Olympic sailing events.

Shanghai — which along with the closer-to-Beijing cities of Tianjin and Qinhuangdao is playing host to Summer Games men's and women's soccer matches — is some 900 miles away.

The 1,200-mile distance between Olympic cities Beijing and Hong Kong would be the equivalent of Salt Lake City having shared 2002 Winter Olympic events with some far-away venue located in St. Louis; Dallas; Edmonton, Canada; or Monterrey, Mexico.

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