Brisk Business as Hong Kong Season Begins

The Hong Kong Jockey Club kicked off its 2011 racing season Feb. 5 with impressive business numbers, an indication horse racing and betting remains a major attraction.

The HKJC reported more than 96,000 people attended the first meet at Sha Tin Racecourse, the largest Chinese New Year meet crowd in nine years. Pari-mutuel handle increased 8.6% from 2010, with HK$1,261 million ($154 million in U.S. dollars) wagered on an 11-race card.

“The racing program was good,” HKJC chief executive officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said in a statement. “The whole entertainment package was good, and the atmosphere on course was just fantastic. This was the best Chinese New Year meeting I’ve seen in Hong Kong. It’s a really great start to the Year of the Rabbit.”

The feature of the day, the Chairman’s Sprint Prize (HK-I), went to David Pong Chun Yee’s Dim Sum in an upset. The 7-year-old Kyllachy gelding bred in Great Britain kept favored Sacred Kingdom from equaling the 18-win record set by Silent Witness.

Dim Sum just held off Sacred Kingdom in 1:08.74 for 1,200 meters on a course rated good. He paid HK$146 to win.

Dim Sum is trained by John Moore and was ridden by Olivier Doleuze. Sacred Kingdom finished him in 2009, when Dim Sum won the Chairman’s Sprint Prize.

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