Brisk Business as Hong Kong Season Begins

Attendance and handle increased for the opener of the Hong Kong racing season.

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.