Hong Kong Horse Racing Planning a Big 2018/19
Hong Kong will stage its 2018/19 season opener at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, 2 September, the first of 88 fixtures worth a record total of HK$1.22 billion.
The season will consist of 47 day meetings and 41 night fixtures at Hong Kong’s two iconic tracks, Happy Valley and Sha Tin. The season finale is scheduled for Sunday, 14 July, 2019.
Dates to note include the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races, with its four famous Group 1 contests worth a combined HK$93 million in stakes, on Sunday, 9 December, and Champions Day on Sunday, 28 April. The latter will again feature the G1 QEII Cup (2000m), G1 Champions Mile (1600m) and G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m), with the three championship races worth a total of HK$58 million in prize money.
The LONGINES International Jockeys Championship will light up Happy Valley on Wednesday, 5 December.
Hong Kong’s most coveted domestic prize, the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m), will be run at Sha Tin on Sunday, 17 March.
A change to the calendar will move the first leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown, the G1 Stewards’ Cup (1600m), and the first leg of the Hong Kong Speed Series, the G1 Centenary Sprint Cup (1200m), to 20 January, with the Four-Year-Old Classic Series opener, the Hong Kong Classic Mile, shifting to a spot one week later on 27 January.
That gives a three-week lead-up to the second leg, the Hong Kong Classic Cup (1800m), which will be part of an exciting top-class programme on Sunday, 17 February along with the G1 Citi Hong Kong Gold Cup (2000m) and the G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m), both of which will be run one week earlier than last term.
This season’s Chinese New Year Meeting will be on Thursday, 7 February.
Hong Kong will stage 12 Group 1 races, with all of the jurisdiction’s lucrative Pattern races open to international competition.
Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges said that Hong Kong’s feature meetings, the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races in December and Champions Day in April, will continue to grow in the season ahead, which will offer overall prize money of HK$1.22 billion across its 88 race meetings, an increase of 5% on this term.
“The LONGINES Hong Kong International Races continues to be one of the highlights on the world racing calendar and we are making further steps to ensure it remains the Turf World Championships,” he said. “We have raised the LONGINES Hong Kong International Races purse to a combined HK$93 million, which is a 10 percent increase.
“We are also very excited by the emergence of Champions Day, which proved a great success with our Champion Sprinter (Ivictory), Champion Miler (Beauty Generation) and Champion Stayer (Pakistan Star) winning the three feature races. We will further expand this by announcing a new sponsor soon.”
Looking ahead, Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges is excited for the opportunities afforded by the opening of Conghua Training Centre. The integration of CTC into the Hong Kong system occurred last Thursday (12 July), when the first in-training horses arrived at the site on the Chinese Mainland.
“Conghua Training Centre is one of the biggest investments the Club has ever made,” he said. “The comments from top-class horsemen who have visited the site – from Michael Kinane, who visited a couple of months ago, to Derek Leung and Douglas Whyte, who rode work there on Friday – they are all very positive. Michael said it was one of the best centres he has ever seen, while Derek and Douglas appreciate what this means for the future of Hong Kong racing.
“With horses now heading up to Conghua, we can begin to invest in our Hong Kong training facilities, with HK$1.5 billion earmarked to upgrade the stables here at Sha Tin. This is in line with our long-term commitment to improving Hong Kong racing.”
Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges thanked the Club’s Owners, Members, race fans, the racing media and the Club’s staff for their continued support.
Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “We are delighted with another record season, one of our most exciting seasons both on and off the track. That excitement reached a thrilling climax this afternoon, with Zac Purton holding off Joao Moreira’s final push to win the jockeys’ championship. As well as great sport today, we also had record turnover for an 11-race meeting, despite receiving 35 millimetres of rain, and that shows the enthusiasm for our product.
“It is extremely competitive and exciting; we have world-class jockeys from right across the globe, world-class trainers, horses sourced from all over the world. We deliver the most international racing product, and, in terms of excitement, I don’t think any racing jurisdiction can match us on a race-by-race basis.
The CEO emphasised the Club’s strong financial position: “Our total gross margin of HK$5.48 billion is an increase of 6.3 percent. Our contribution as Hong Kong’s biggest taxpayer once again topped HK$13 billion for the second time, demonstrating the importance of racing to the Hong Kong community.”
Much of the growth across the season was due to the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s strategic positioning as a global commingling hub. The total amount wagered with commingling partners reached HK$16.5 billion; a massive increase of 154.8% on last season’s HK$6.5 billion.