IN terms of numbers, entries for Hong Kong racing’s two international spring showpieces, the G1 BMW Champions Mile and the G1 Audemars Piguet QE II Cup, show a marked increase on those of 2010.

And the number of horses who have distinguished themselves at the very highest level shows the pattern of growth is more than maintained in terms of quality.

There are no less than 18 G1 winners being aimed at the Champions Mile, now sponsored for the first time by German luxury car-maker BMW, and 40 horses who have either been placed at G1 level or won at G2 and G3.

The G1 winners include such exceptional performers as Australian star mare More Joyous, US Champion Turf Horse Gio Ponti, Singaporean sensation Better Than Ever and Godolphin’s Mendip.

They will be pitched against such local heroes as last year’s G1 Champions Mile victor Able One, and G1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Flash who completed a hat trick of international and local G1s when taking the 1400m HKG1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup last time out and now travels to Meydan in a bid to make it a four timer in the G1 Dubai Duty Free.

Entries for the APQEII are however even more spectacular, with 31 G1 winners being pointed at the 2000m prize on 1 May as opposed to 18 last season.

They include superstar filly Snow Fairy, winner last year of the G1 Epsom and G1 Irish Oaks as well as the G1 Queen Elizabeth II Commemorative Cup in Japan before she mowed down a high class field with a devastating burst on 12 December in the G1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup.

Entered with the intention of  preventing the diminutive Ed Dunlop-trained heroine from completing a Sha Tin double (CXHK Cup and APQEII Cup), which would  earn her owner a HK$1 million bonus, are 2010 G1 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Dangerous Midge, 2010 G1 Arima Kinen winner Victoire Pisa, multiple G1 winning New Zealand filly Keep The Peace, 2010 G1 Irish Champion Stakes winner Cape Blanco, 2010 G1 Canadian International winner Joshua Tree, 2010 G1 Arlington Million winner Debussy, 2009 G1 APQEII winner Presvis and 2011 G2 Jebel Hatta winner Wigmore Hall.

Defending the prize for Hong Kong will be such up-and-coming stars as HKG1 Citibank Hong Kong Gold Cup winner California Memory, who actually recorded an even faster final 400m than Snow Fairy when taking that HKG1 event, and HKG1 Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby fancies Ambitious Dragon and Xtension as well as hardy annual veteran Viva Pataca, already twice victorious in the increasingly prestigious contest sponsored by the famed Swiss watchmaker.

“The number and strength in depth of the entries is a great tribute to the drawing power of these two international events,” said Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director of Racing, William A Nader.

“What’s particularly gratifying is the geographical spread of the countries in which the entries are trained. The lists include genuine champions from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, South Africa, the UAE, the UK and the USA.

In all, a remarkable 42 individual winners of G1s worldwide and as well as 77 horses who have either G1 placings or victories at G2 or G3 level, or both,  have been entered for what has all the makings of an exceptional spring festival in Hong Kong.”