Glorious Forever's victory in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup wrapped up a first ever Hong Kong clean-sweep at the Hong Kong International Races and capped a stellar occasion of world class sport at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, Dec. 9.
A vocal crowd of 96,388 enjoyed four stunning races. Beauty Generation was sensational in slamming a top-class field in the Hong Kong Mile; Frankie Lor sealed a breakthrough Group 1 with Mr Stunning in the Hong Kong Sprint and achieved a remarkable double thanks to Glorious Forever; all after Exultant set the ball rolling with a head-bobbing victory in the G1 Hong Kong Vase.
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club's Chief Executive Officer, said: “This is a dream result and it is extremely satisfying to see the depth and quality of Hong Kong horses rising to the fore to win four Group 1 races against top-class overseas challengers. It is an amazing achievement and I will stress again that we have only 0.7% of the world's horse population here in Hong Kong.”
Second-season trainer Frankie Lor, a stable hand's son and former jockey in Hong Kong, achieved a G1 breakthrough with Mr Stunning in the Hong Kong Sprint before doubling up with Glorious Forever in the HK$28 million (US$3.58 million) feature. Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said that Lor's rise “shows the Jockey Club's dedication to developing Hong Kong talent to a world class standard.”
The afternoon's four races carried record purses, being worth a total of HK$93 million (US$11.9 million), and crowned a week which also featured Silvestre de Sousa's exciting triumph on Wednesday night at a star-packed International Jockeys Championship, as well as Frankie Dettori receiving the World's Best Jockey Award at Friday night's gala dinner.
“This week is a feast of sport, not only for Hong Kong but also for the whole racing world,” Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said. “Today we have seen four astonishing performances with Hong Kong the centre of attention and looking back at Wednesday, I think we were privileged to see the best International Jockeys Championship we have ever had, with a brilliant winner.”
The Hong Kong International Races is established as horse racing's year-end extravaganza and attracted many world-elite horsemen, with 24 overseas horses competing from Japan, Britain, France, Ireland, Australia and Singapore.
“If you look at the quality of horses we have seen today, we have to be very satisfied,” Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said. “We had 21 individual G1 winners and seven horses rated 120 or above; Japan sent a very strong team of nine contenders and we are extremely happy that we have again attracted horses from some of the world's top class trainers, like Sir Michael Stoute, Aidan O'Brien and Andre Fabre, and global giants like Godolphin, the Aga Khan and Juddmonte.”
The CEO was delighted with the attendance – almost 2,000 up on last year – and was “extremely happy” with the passion shown by those who turned out to cheer their heroes on a chilly afternoon, the coldest of the season so far.
The day's turnover for the afternoon's 10-race card was HK$1.605 billion (US$230 million), a new record for the day and a slight rise on 2017, while commingling turnover came in at HK$258 million (US$33 million).
“This is our highest turnover ever for this day, which is a tremendous result,” he said. “And commingling was a record, too, with a figure of HK$258 million being 30% more than last year. That total does not include more than HK$215 million turnover which was bet in Japan on the four international races, and this all shows that there is a great international interest in Hong Kong racing among customers across the globe.
“Offering world-class sport is essential to help racing grow and one of the innovations that is coming out of this tremendous commingling turnover is that we will have the World Pool invested here in Hong Kong, which shows the liquidity we have in our pools and the confidence in our technology.”
Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges thanked LONGINES for its partnership, which has been in place since 2012 and has helped raise the event's profile to a new level. He also commended the Hong Kong Jockey Club staff who organised and staged an event in which Hong Kong can take great pride.
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