Hong Kong delivers world class sport as Japanese international raiders sparkle

The LONGINES Hong Kong International Race meeting at Sha Tin on Sunday saw close Asian Racing Federation neighbour Japan sweep three of the four Group 1 races.

Joao Moreira salutes the victory on Glory Vase (JPN) in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m), picture Liesl King
Joao Moreira salutes the victory on Glory Vase (JPN) in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m), picture Liesl King
The Japanese took a near clean sweep in the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) with the appropriately named Glory Vase (JPN) demolishing the field under Joao Moreira for trainer Tomohito Ozeki.

Lucky Lilac (JPN and Christophe Soumillon were second and Deirdre (JPN) and Osin Murphy were fourth. Only Hong Kong’s Exultant (IRE) and Zac Purton, who won last year, prevented the trifecta finishing third.

Three-year-old colt Admire Mars (JPN) under Christophe Soumillon claimed his third Group 1 victory when taking the Group 1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) over the Hong Kong contenders Waikuku (IRE) and Beauty Generation (NZ) with fellow Japanese runner Normcore (JPN) fourth.

Win Bright (JPN) produced a performance hallmarked with toughness to go with his considerable class to complete the Group 1 double of the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) and April’s FWD QEII Cup (2000m) for trainer Yoshihiro Hatakeyama and jockey Masami Matsuoka.

Hong Kong's John Size and jockey Joao Moreira spoke of vindication and feeling humbled in an unusually emotion-charged response to their win with Hong Kong’s most consistent sprinter Beat The Clock in the LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

Moreira declared he would cherish the win “all my life” while Size wiped away a tear or two after the ever-reliable Beat The Clock (AUS) beat stablemate Hot King Prawn (AUS) with sprinting’s would-be-king Aethero (AUS), the 1.5 favourite, the same margin back in third.

It was a remarkable day of sport for the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) who staged the meeting around the current social unrest in the city.

Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the HKJC's Chief Executive Officer said: "The outcome of today's races shows that it was a fantastic international race meeting. Our Irish friends missed out on a little bit of luck in the Cup but really it was a day for our Japanese friends. They have supported us with a lot of horses coming for this meeting.

"The quality and the excitement we have seen shows what Hong Kong racing is all about. It's about world class sport and that is what makes us a unique value proposition."

The HKJC was rewarded with a record turnover for the meeting of HK$1.71 billion.

"We are more than delighted about the turnover. We could not have expected turnover like we had today," Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

"The interesting part is that the local turnover, even though we had to close down some of our Off-Course Betting Branches, was above last year at HK$1.376 billion. The major growth seen today came from co-mingling turnover, which has been amazing. This shows that our strategy of globalistion, of making Hong Kong racing - with our integrity, with all the excitement, with the deep liquidity in our pool - available to the world, is working.

"The co-mingling turnover was HK$334 million, which is up by nearly 30% from HK$258 million last year.

"But today was not about the turnover.

"It was about the sport and also how it showed the resilience of Hong Kong racing, and the excellence of the Hong Kong Jockey Club. It is a day to celebrate because despite a lot of challenges we have staged something that I don't think many organisations in the world could have done.

"For us to be able to stage this international event when all other major sporting events here have been cancelled, we have demonstrated that we manage what we do extremely professionally, with a real risk assessment."

Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges thanked the Club's staff, the media in attendance and particularly the international horsemen who demonstrated their faith in the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

He said: "Thanks firstly to our outstanding people here in Hong Kong and second of all the international connections who have put their trust in us and have brought some of the best horses in the world to compete and put on a race meeting of real excellence.

"I thank the media for trusting us and coming here, and our colleagues and the media here in Hong Kong who have covered the race meeting exceptionally well. I thank all of you."