The Impact of the 2018 Hong Kong International Races

Although it has one of the smallest horse populations in the world, Hong Kong has positioned itself as global leader in thoroughbred racing. The Hong Kong International Races, or H.K.I.R., the marquee event of the island’s season, take place on Sunday at Sha Tin Racecourse.

Begun in 1988, the event originally featured one race, the Hong Kong Invitation Cup, which was the first international race held there. Now simply named the Hong Kong Cup, the race has been joined by the Hong Kong Sprint, Mile and Vase, and they are worth 93 million Hong Kong dollars ($11.9 million) in total. More than 1,300 runners from 17 countries and regions have taken part since the races were created.

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s chief executive, discussed the success of the races as well as Hong Kong’s racing model. The conversation has been edited and condensed.

How important are the Hong Kong International Races to the program?

One of the cornerstones in developing Hong Kong racing …