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Charity wins in a day at the races

A CHARITY horse carnival raised more than 1 million yuan (US$142,857) for needy patients suffering from congenital heart disease and for children with cerebral palsy, treating visitors to a day of races, polo matches and dressage displays.

But while organizers were satisfied with the amount of cash they collected, many visitors were scratching their heads over what they had witnessed, and some were frustrated over faltering food and transportation services.

The Shanghai Charity Foundation, one of the event's organizers, admitted there was trouble and said it would use the lessons learned to enhance planning in the future.

Held at the Nine Dragons Polo Club in Pinghu, Zhejiang Province, the carnival also featured non-equine activities such as lucky draws and a women's hat competition.

Nearly 2,000 people bought tickets for 1,680 yuan or 1,980 yuan, which provided better seating and food. All ticket proceeds went to the foundation, officials said.

A spectator who identified himself only as Zhang said though he thought it was important to combine charity with entertainment, he and his family were often perplexed about what was going on during the race.

"They didn't provide a clear explanation about the horse racing, and we didn't even know where the finish line was," Zhang told Shanghai Daily. "It was a bit confusing for us to watch racing for the first time."

The organizers also didn't provide enough seats in the dining area. At noon, after standing in long lines for their meals, many people failed to find a place to sit.

"We waited for more than 20 minutes for a seat, and my boy was starved," Zhang said.

Earlier, nearly 100 spectators had to wait for the event's shuttle bus for more than an hour and a half at People's Square and arrived too late to watch all the events.

Ma Zhongqi, deputy director of the foundation, said officials welcome suggestions from the public.

"We are not experienced in holding such a big event," he said.

"But the event will continue in the future, and we believe it will be better," the official added.


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