Australian horses are a significant step closer to competing at major meetings in Hong Kong after the two governments came to an interim agreement this week on quarantine restrictions.

Horses have been banned from travelling directly between Hong Kong and Australia since October 2017. They have had to spend six months in a third country due to biosecurity concerns over the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s new training facility at Conghua on mainland China.

The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources placed restrictions on travel because of the movement of horses between Hong Kong and Conghua.

Former Hong Kong horse, the Grahame Begg-trained Beauty Way, entered Australia via New Zealand late last year, while the Chris Waller-trained Comin’ Through headed to Dubai after racing at the Hong Kong International meeting in December.

As well as horses still racing, the ban has affected those retired from Hong Kong, with resettlement in Australia usually preceded by six months in New Zealand.

“The implementation of the interim arrangement will allow Australian racehorses to compete in the Champions Day races at Sha Tin in April 2019,” the Australian Consulate-General in Hong Kong said in a statement yesterday.

“The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources completed an assessment of the arrangement today and the interim arrangement is effective from 12 March 2019.”

The Anthony Freedman stable has indicated Santa Ana Lane, equal topweight in tomorrow’s Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, could be a contender for the Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin on April 28, a race won by star Australian sprinter Chautauqua in 2016.