The Global Sprint Challenge has been suspended for 2018 because of recently imposed restrictions on horse movement between Australia, where the series was to start with the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes (G1) Feb. 17, and Hong Kong, where the series was to finish.
"The partners in the Global Sprint Challenge felt it would be unfair to stage a series of races in which some horses were unable to compete in certain legs, therefore we have regrettably decided to suspend the Challenge in 2018," Leigh Jordon, Global Sprint Challenge Committee chairman said in a statement.
Inaugurated in 2005, the Challenge offers a $1 million bonus for any horse that wins three of its 10 legs in three different jurisdictions. It has yet to be won.
Jordan said the intent is to resume the series in 2019 with the expectation that import regulations between Hong Kong and Australia will have been normalized by then. He said the hiatus also will give organizers "the chance to review the current format, bonus structure, and sponsorship, and to explore some exciting new marketing initiatives."
Australian authorities in September 2017 imposed an effective ban on the importation of horses from Hong Kong, citing questions about the biosecurity of transport between Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Jockey Club's massive new training facility at Conghua on the Chinese mainland.
The HKJC objected strongly to the action, which prevented participation of Australian horses in the Longines Hong Kong International races in December, citing tight controls over its cross-border movements and the approval of biosecurity measures by international oversight bodies.
"This is a highly prejudicial action and it is at odds with the substantial economic relationship between the racing, breeding, and wagering sectors of Australia and Hong Kong, which has existed for many years," HKJC's executive director Andrew Harding said at the time of the Australian ban.