Australia, Hong Kong and Japan are keeping major racing going with world-wide interest


Racing jurisdictions around the world continue to wait for official advice that they may resume racing after the Covid-19 suspension including Asian Racing Federation’s South Africa who had hoped to resume last week, however, were unable to do so without approval from government.

Singapore is expected to resume racing shortly after June 1st, 2020, and New Zealand’s racing will resume after July 1st, 2020. In Europe both European, UK and Irish racing may resume around the middle of May.

Meanwhile Australia, Hong Kong and Japan are keeping major racing going with world-wide interest. Wagering company Tabcorp’s Sky Channel has some 65 countries taking the Sky broadcast feed of Australian racing and over the recent Sydney Autumn Carnival racedays in early April Sky broadcast to 13 extra countries for the first time.

The new markets included Israel, Jordan, Mauritania, Qatar, Oman, Dubai and Egypt.

“We have had record turnover this year from Hong Kong. We usually get about A$30 million wagered there on both days of The Championships (Sydney Autumn Carnival) but this year it was A$99.9 million across both days,” said Tabcorp’s executive general manager of its media and international business, Darren Pearce.

“Our wagering turnover is up 250% in the United States. New Zealand is also a strong market for us and we are up about 20% on average there. Racing Authorities here have done a very good job in keeping racing going and it has proved popular for us internationally,” he said.

Meanwhile Japan held another Grade 1 behind closed doors to patrons on Sunday with the 161st running of the Tenno Sho (Spring) (3200m) at Kyoto.

Fierement (JPN) arrives to win the 2020 Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) in the final stride, picture Japan Racing Association
Fierement (JPN) arrives to win the 2020 Grade 1 Tenno Sho (Spring) in the final stride, picture Japan Racing Association

The race favourite Fierement (JPN) showcased outstanding stayer talent to win for the second time and is the first since Kitasan Black (2016 - 2017) and fifth in JRA history to claim the title consecutively.

The 2018 Kikuka Sho (Japanese St. Leger, G1, 3,000m) winner was heavily beaten to 12th in his Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (G1, 2,400m) challenge last season but bounced back to mark a fourth in the year-end Arima Kinen (G1, 2,500m) and this was his first start since.

This victory marks trainer Takahisa Tezuka’s sixth JRA-Grade 1 title, his latest was last year’s Tenno Sho (Spring), while jockey Christophe Lemaire has now 29 under his belt—his latest was the February Stakes with Mozu Ascot. Lemaire has already captured the autumn version of the Tenno Sho with Rey de Oro in 2018 and Almond Eye in 2019 which now makes him the first jockey ever to claim four Tenno Sho titles in a row.

Still seventh heading into the main straight right behind Mikki Swallow, the five-year-old Deep Impact entire Fierement unleashed a spectacular last 600m drive, catching You Can Smile in the last 50 meters and digging in well to draw even with Stiffelio (JPN) right at the wire for a dramatic photo-finish.

“The pace was ideal and I was almost sure it would be an easy win for us, but he wasn't focused at times, so as it turned out we had to fight hard to the line. But in spite of the long distance and the wide draw, he was unhurried earlier in the race and had the strength left to charge home the way he did, everything went well. I am thankful to the fans rooting for us at home. I look forward to seeing them in the stands very soon,” commented Lemaire.