68k Attend Hong Kong Racing at Sha Tin

Hong Kong horse racingPositive start to Hong Kong’s 2019/20 season

Hong Kong’s 2019/20 season opened today, Sunday, 1 September, with an enthusiastic crowd of 68,271 cheering on their sporting heroes in an atmosphere of positivity at Sha Tin racecourse.

Race goers roared loudest for 13-time champion jockey Douglas Whyte, who saddled his first winner as a trainer.

Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We know that we are in challenging times here in Hong Kong but I found it very encouraging to see the positive energy that was created at the racecourse today.

“The first-race atmosphere, the excited anticipation from the racegoers, was extremely good and the results, from a sporting point of view, were extremely pleasing: It was great to see Douglas Whyte have his first winner with only his second runner.”

The CEO was also delighted with the five successes on the day for Hong Kong’s home-grown riders, all of whom are products of the world renowned HKJC Apprentice Jockeys’ School.

“Our Hong Kong-grown talent has done extremely well today,” he said. “You can see the confidence in Vincent Ho, in how he rides, and it is encouraging for them to win five of the 10 races despite the significant increase in competition from our new arrivals, who also did well today without winning.”

Turnover was HK$1.28 billion, while the attendance was the fourth highest in the last 25 years.

“We are very pleased to see the total attendance at 68,000 – that is a positive outcome and exceeded the expectation I had,” Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges admitted.

“I was really surprised that we could hold up the attendance to this level, which is similar to the crowd we had here on the opening day in 2017. I hope this shows Hong Kong racing is strong and we hope we can continue with this positive momentum.

“The turnover was up by HK$35 million to HK$1.28 billion, and again, I have to admit that I expected it to be much lower today. Our commingling turnover has gone up from HK$158 million on this day last year to over HK$209 million. That shows the competitiveness of the overseas market.”

Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges thanked the city’s racing fans for the “tremendous support and the resilience they have shown” in a challenging situation. “We have got the first race meeting off the ground with a positive start and that emphasises the strong support we have from our fans. I would also like to thank our staff for their dedication to make this happen” he said.

A Beauty Winner for Prestigious Hong Kong Stakes?

Beauty Generation and Glorious Forever, still basking in the afterglow of Group 1 victories at last month’s LONGINES Hong Kong International Races, rolled with commanding ease through their respective barrier trials at Sha Tin last Tuesday.

Jockey Zac Purton had ominous words for Beauty Generation’s rivals ahead of the upcoming G1 Stewards’ Cup, and those who might face him beyond that 20 January feature.

“He just seems to be getting better,” he said. “It’s getting into scary territory now, how good he’s starting to become.”

That assessment was delivered after the horse – rated the world’s best specialist turf miler – had cruised through a 1000m grass trial, the first of the morning at a floodlit Sha Tin. John Moore’s stable titan moved powerfully within his capabilities, closing on the talented pace-setter Singapore Sling to finish upsides at the finish, and then drawing away at his leisure until eased to a stop.

The Impact of the Hong Kong International Races“He strode out really well and worked up to the line under his own steam,” Purton said. “He had a nice little blow out and pulled up really well. He’s a happy horse at the moment.

“It’s like he’s got stronger and got a lot more confidence. He seems to do it with ease and he enjoys doing it.”

And Purton noted there was no hint of any lugging out, either. The two-time G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile hero hung markedly across the track when setting a Sha Tin course record earlier this term.

“He went pretty straight this morning, which was good,” Purton said. “We worked him in company last week, he came up on the inside of a horse and he went very straight. It’s the straightest he’s gone, so hopefully that might encourage him to continue to do that.”

Glorious Forever, meanwhile, appears to have come out of his G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) triumph in fine heart. The Frankie Lor-trained chestnut relished the opportunity to bound out ahead of nine others in a 1600m turf trial this morning.

The five-year-old was never headed and jockey Silvestre de Sousa revealed that his mount had gone a little better than anticipated.

“It was meant to be an easy trial but I felt he was going so easily that I had to just sit on him and let him stride. He didn’t do anything over what he was able to do and he felt in good heart, too,” the Brazilian said.

De Sousa also believes the Archipenko gelding has benefitted from a tough run to victory last time.

“I think the horse is now understanding more of what it’s all about. He’d had a few races before, of course, but when a horse wins a big one like that, sometimes they improve again because he put all that effort in and he knows now what he’s capable of doing.

“He’s a classy horse,” Britain’s champion rider continued. “You could see in that trial just now, he bounced out and that was after a very tough race last time. He took that race very well and you could see him out there, he looks even better. He’s in good health and I’m looking forward to his next start.”

Lor confirmed Glorious Forever’s next race will be the G3 Centenary Vase Handicap over 1800m at Sha Tin on 27 January. And he ruled out an overseas venture to Dubai in March.

“We plan for him to go to the (G1) Hong Kong Gold Cup after he races on the 27th. Then there are not many races for him until April when the aim is the (G1) QEII Cup,” he said.

“We could potentially travel him but if you go to Dubai it is too close, it is at the end of March and then you come back and only have three weeks. When we’re going to the QEII Cup, I don’t want to go to Dubai because you don’t know how the horse is going to come back – sometimes they don’t come back well at all.”

Source: Hong Kong Jockey Club

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 …