Hong Kong Horse Racing: 2017 Hong Kong International Sale
The 2017 Hong Kong International Sale (HKIS) on the evening of Friday, 17 March gives Hong Kong Jockey Club members the opportunity to purchase any of 31 select lots, sourced from some of the world’s most prominent yearling auctions and offered to the highest bidder under lights in the spectacular arena of Sha Tin’s covered Parade Ring.
The Hong Kong International Sale has been an exciting fixture in the Hong Kong calendar since 1995. It has produced a host of headline graduates, known as International Sale Griffins or ISGs, but the 2016 sale has been among the most successful on record so far. To date, 75% of 2016 HKIS graduates to start have recorded top four finishes with nine individual winners amongst them.
The most successful 2016 HKIS alum thus far was a German-bred Shamardal gelding out of stakes-winning mare Nina Celebre, sourced from the Arqana yearling sales in Deauville; he was sold to owner Kerm Din for HK$6 million. Named Pakistan Star, the Tony Cruz-trained galloper put his name up in lights with two dazzling wins to begin his career. He then progressed to win the Griffin Trophy (1400m) in December, before a barnstorming last-start run in the second leg of the Four-Year-Old Classic Series, the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m). That most recent performance brought his lifetime earnings to more than HK$6.8 million and confirmed him as one of the headline acts of his generation heading into the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) on 19 March.
King of the ring was a son of Starcraft, with the sale topper heading to owner Liu Yu Wen for HK$8.5 million. Now named Jing Jing Win, the Australian-bred chestnut has won two of his three starts in impressive fashion for handler David Hall and has appeared capable of performing in higher classes.
Other winners out of last year’s sale have included John Moore-trained O’Reilly gelding Go Beauty Go and Manfred Man’s son of Fastnet Rock, Smiling Charm, both two-time victors, while Super Sixteen (Showcasing), Gorgeous Again (Fastnet Rock), Call Me Handsome (Kodiac), Unicron Jewellery (Savabeel) and Red Horse (Flying Spur) complete the list of successful 2016 Hong Kong International Sale graduates.
However, time can also prove a profitable commodity for sales graduates. One of the more notable ISGs of recent times is Danny Shum-trained Supreme Profit; bought for HK$3.3 million, the Encosta De Lago gelding took almost two years to win for the first time. Since then, though, he has put together nine wins, culminating in his triumph in the G3 Centenary Vase (1800m) last month, with his earnings now approaching HK$8 million.
The HKIS honour roll is long and storied, with the standout being the exceptional Good Ba Ba. Bought for HK$1.7 million at the 2004 sale, the Lear Fan gelding ended his career as one of Hong Kong racing’s all-time greats with 16 wins in the city and earnings of HK$59 million. Rated the world’s leading Older Turf Miler in 2008, he was also named Hong Kong’s Horse of the Year and was twice Hong Kong’s Champion Miler. A four-time international G1 winner, he remains the only horse to have won the G1 Hong Kong Mile on three occasions.
Others for the HKIS hall of fame include The Duke, winner of the 2006 G1 Hong Kong Mile, with career earnings of HK$31.2 million for his HK$1.6 million purchase price; the high-class sprinter/miler Scintillation, whose victories featured the HKG1 Hong Kong Classic Mile (2005) and HKG1 Centenary Sprint Cup (2006/2007); the 1998 HKG1 Stewards’ Cup hero, Billion Win; and Liberator, Hong Kong’s Champion Stayer in 2012, the year he won the HKG1 Champions & Chater Cup.
Past graduates also include 2009 HKG2 Hong Kong Derby Trial winner Unique Jewellery, HKG3 winners Pleasure Gains and Lucky Six, 2013/14 Champion Griffin and six-time winner Bullish Smart, and popular 10-time winner, Noble Conqueror.
The 2017 Hong Kong International Sale on Friday, 17 March will commence at 7:45pm. A Cocktail reception at 6.30pm will precede the auction.
Potential buyers can watch this year’s sale horses stretch out over the Sha Tin turf during a breeze-up session and breakfast on Saturday, 11 March, which will be held from 8.30am to 11.30am.