As Thoroughbreds from around the world made their final preparations for the Dec. 11 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races, international eyes also were focused on the World Trade Organization ministerial conference set to begin in downtown Hong Kong two days later.
United States-based Designed For Luck and Great Britain-based Majestic Missile were withdrawn Dec. 9 from the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) and the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint (HK-I), respectively. The races are two of four group I events to be run Dec. 11 at Sha Tin racecourse.
The connections of United States-based runners seemed no less satisfied after the post-position draw for the Dec. 11 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races at Sha Tin racecourse. In all, the four group I grass races, worth a total of HK$64 million, lured 49 horses from around the world.
International racing's longest winning streak of recent years bit the dust in the very final strides of Saturday's Champions Mile (HK-I) as stablemate Bullish Luck wrested the lead from the hitherto undefeated Silent Witness to score by a short head.
Hong Kong's government is considering tax reform, a longer racing season, and new betting methods as it attempts to boost legal wagering on horse racing after losing ground to illegal and overseas gambling operators.
Sprint sensation Silent Witness, who is a perfect 14-for-14 and was 2004 Horse of the Year in Hong Kong, will soon have his own Web site. The Hong Kong Jockey Club will launch the site Feb. 26 to honor the horse that Time magazine voted as one of the "people" that mattered most in 2004.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is negotiating with the government over the way racing wagers are taxed. The organization is confident a change from a per-bet tax to a flat tax on total handle could increase betting pools.
The Hong Kong International Sale realized a record price Dec. 11 at Sha Tin Racecourse when a gelded son of King's Best sold for HK$6 million (US $771,506). The sale was held for the first time inside the new HK$410 million retractable roof walking ring on the Saturday afternoon prior to the Dec. 12 Cathay Pacific International races.
International star jockey Frankie Dettori, who incurred a twisted ankle during the first leg of the International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley Racecourse Wednesday night, was on track at Sha Tin Racecourse Friday morning to put Hong Kong Cup (HK-I) favorite Falbrav through a leg-stretching gallop.
Falbrav, who figures to be the even-money favorite for Sunday's Hong Kong Cup (HK-I), drew post 5 in the 14-horse field Thursday morning at the barrier draw held at Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong. The HK$18 million (approximately $2.3 million U.S.) Hong Kong Cup is the star attraction of the Hong Kong International Races, which also includes the Hong Kong Vase, Sprint, and Mile (all HK-I).
Some of the top international jockeys, including Frankie Dettori, Kieren Fallon, Mick Kinane, Christophe Soumillon, and Victor Espinoza will square off Wednesday evening at Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong for the International Jockey Championship.
Twenty-eight colts and geldings were guided through public breezes at Sha Tin Racecourse Sunday in preparation for the 2003 Hong Kong International Sale. Drawing plenty of attention for the sale, which will take place Friday, Dec. 12, were three sons of international leading sire Danehill.
Jockey Victor Espinoza and former International Jockeys' Championship champion Olivier Peslier have been added to the line-up for the sixth International Jockeys' Championship at Happy Valley in Hong Kong on Dec. 10.
Though handle was down for its most recent racing season, the Hong Kong Jockey Club remains optimistic in the wake of product expansion, including wagering on soccer games, the organization's top official said Aug. 28 during the club's annual general meeting.
The return of the top-priced colt from Australia's major yearling sale caused some consternation in the wake of a tremendously successful auction. However, the use of X-rays also reflects a significant advance for the Australian and New Zealand branch of the Thoroughbred industry.
Irish jockey John Egan and South African jockey Robert Fradd were both suspended last month by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, following their arrests in a case that also included charges of illegal bookmaking activities.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club, a major and regular buyer at the Sydney Easter Yearling Sale in Australia, continues to insist it will boycott the annual auction over the issue of X-raying prospective purchases.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is threatening to boycott the prestigious Sydney Easter sale due to a dispute over the X-raying of horses before and after Australia's premier yearling auction, according to a story in the Racing Post. The HKJC has demanded the right to X-ray yearlings and return any purchases which are found to have major faults.
The board of stewards of the Hong Kong Jockey Club suspended the licenses of jockeys John Egan and Robert Fradd Saturday in the wake of the Independent Commission Against Corruption's investigation into possible race fixing. Four Jockey Club employees have also been suspended from their duties.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has issued a statement saying it cannot comment on published reports saying that anti-corruption officers have arrested 19 people, including two jockeys, as a result of a race-fixing investigation.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has upheld, but amended, a suspension levied American jockey Corey Nakatani for his ride aboard Forbidden Apple in a fifth-place finish in the Hong Kong Mile (HK-I) on December 16.
World Racing Championships chairman James E "Ted" Bassett III announced Saturday that the series will undertake Phase II that includes the addition of the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Singapore Airlines International Cup to the championships in 2002.
Hong Kong racing officials have big dreams for a planned Asian Racing Series. "We want, in the end, to have these races build up as the world turf championship," said Hong Kong Jockey Club Director of Racing Winfried Englebrecht-Bresges.
Days after the defection of Breeders' Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Val Royal from the Hong Kong Mile (HK-I), the race at Sha Tin Racecourse lost another prospective entrant Friday when it was announced that Sagitta Two Thousand Guineas (Eng-I) runner-up Tamburlaine will also miss the Dec.16 race.
Gestut Fahrhof's homebred 5-year-old Silvano held favored Jim and Tonic at bay in the stretch to earn a 1 3/4-length win in Sunday's Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup (HK-I) at Sha Tin. Indigenous finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind Jim and Tonic.
Stewards of the Hong Kong Jockey Club on Friday fined jockey Greg Childs HK$300,000 (about US$$37,514) for breaching rules of racing by "engaging in conduct prejudicial to the good reputation of horse racing in Hong Kong." The action stems from a conversation Childs reportedly had with another rider, Justin Sheehan, prior to the Hong Kong Mile on Dec. 17 and Childs' reported post-race public comments about the conversation with Sheehan. Childs rode the top New Zealand mare Sunline to victory in the Mile; Sheehan finished third aboard Adam.
Stewards of the Hong Kong Jockey Club have scheduled an inquiry for Friday into quotes attributed to jockey Greg Childs following his winning ride aboard the New Zealand mare Sunline in the Hong Kong Mile. The inquiry centers around a Sydney Morning Herald article with quotes attributed to Childs concerning a pre-race discussion he had with Justin Sheehan, rider of eventual Mile third-place finisher Adam.
California-based trainer Ben Cecil has been fined HK$50,000 (about US$6,410) by Hong Kong Jockey Club stewards as a result of Falcon Flight testing positive for a prohibited substance prior to Sunday's Hong Kong International Cup. HKJC stewards will also reportedly review the circumstances surrounding the impressive victory by Sunline in the Hong Kong Mile. Greg Childs, who rode Sunline, said that he and another jockey discussed strategy prior to the race.
Trade was strong on the opening day of the Tattersalls December, which featured the last yearlings to be sold at auction this year. The session saw a total of 2,120,300 guineas spent at an average of 14,724 guineas, an increase of 7%. The drop in the gross value can be attributed to Tattersalls new policy encouraging Vendors to declare their buy-backs.