WITH a relatively short history but a high reputation, the Champions Mile is sponsored in a three-year agreement by elite German car manufacturer BMW, and will be run on the Easter Monday, 25 April.

First run in the 2000/2001 season, the Champions Mile, a Hong Kong Group 1 race, was initially established as a season finale for the top local milers.

In 2005, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Japan Racing Association joined forces to present the inaugural Asian Mile Challenge with the Champions Mile as the first leg and the Yasuda Kinen run in Tokyo as the second leg.  This was the first time the Champions Mile was opened to international competition.

In 2006, the Champions Mile became the third leg of the Asian Mile Challenge as the series has been expanded to include two more races, the Melbourne Racing Club’s Group 1 Futurity Stakes and Dubai Racing Club’s Group 1 Dubai Duty Free, to make it the richest mile series in horse racing history.

In 2007, the Champions Mile was granted International Group One status by the International Cataloguing Standards Committee (ICSC). In the same year, The Hong Kong Jockey Club and Breeders' Cup Limited jointly announced the Champions Mile would be the first overseas race to offer automatic qualification for the Breeders' Cup Mile in October, meaning the Champions Mile winner would be exempt from the ballot for the Breeders' Cup Mile.

In 2009 prize money for the Champions Mile was raised to HK$12 million from the previous year’s HK$8 million.

All six editions of the race since 2005 have been won by the Hong Kong-trained milers. It was in that year that the Champions Mile became Hong Kong’s 6th international event of the season.

In the 2005 Champions Mile the Tony Cruz-trained Bullish Luck defeated his stablemate Silent Witness, the world’s top sprinter on turf who was stepping up to 1600 metres for the first time, by a short head.

Bullish Luck successfully defended his title in the 2006 edition and then landed the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo to bring his owner a bonus of US$1 million.

Able One from John Moore stable became the second dual champion of this international G1 race last year, three years after his first victory in the event in 2007.

Good Ba Ba, the unique triple winner of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile, put the Champions Mile trophy into his Group One collection in 2008.

The John Size-trained Sight Winner overcame Egyptian Ra to score the ever biggest upset in the history of the Group one event at odds of 64-1.

Beauty Flash ran third in this race last year and claimed the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile seven months later, followed by further two successes in the HKG1 Stewards’ Cup and Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup this year.

In the past six years, horses starting from Gate 2 recorded the best performance with two winners and three thirds. Tony Cruz has achieved the greatest results among the trainers in the event with two wins, two seconds and two thirds.



THIS year's Audemars Piguet QE II Cup, title-sponsored for the 13th consecutive year by the master Swiss watchmakers, is a HK$14m International Group 1 event scheduled for Sunday 1 May at Sha Tin.

Originally named the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the race was first run on sand over 1575 metres on 5 May 1975 to commemorate the visit to Hong Kong by Queen Elizabeth II and her husband the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip.

The inaugural winner Nazakat, trained by H M Cheung and ridden by A K Cheam, was an outsider and its owner Mr and Mrs H T Barma received the Cup from Her Majesty after the race.

The Queen Elizabeth II Cup was opened to international competition in 1995, when UAE representative Red Bishop was steered to victory by renowned Irish jockey Michael Kinane.

In 1999, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup was accorded International Group 2 status by the International Cataloguing Standards Committee and secured its first ever sponsorship from world-known Swiss watchmakers Audemars Piguet.  Hence, the race was renamed the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup with its prize money increased to HK$5.35m in that year.

On 18 April 1999, Jim And Tonic partnered by Gerald Mosse won the race by 2.5L on good to fast ground in 2 min 0.1 sec, setting a 2000M-turf course record that still remains unbroken today. The French raider then went on to snatch the International Group 1 Hong Kong Cup in December that year.

The prize money of the race was increased to HK$7m in 2000, when Jim And Tonic just failed to defend his title going down by a short head to Industrialist.  However, he managed to defeat Housemaster by the same margin, preventing the home team from landing a quinella. In a 3-way finish, the mounts of Alan Munro, Gerald Mosse and David Harrison battled hard in one of the most typically spectacular finishes in the history of Hong Kong racing.

In 2001, the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup was promoted to International Group 1 status with prize money increased to HK$10m. Jim And Tonic competed in the race for the third time but was defeated by Silvano ridden by Andreas Suborics. This was the first and only win by a German horse in the history of the race so far.

In 2002, the Cup gained inclusion in the World Racing Championships as the second leg of the series and its prize money was increased to HK$14 million. From 2003 to 2005 the race was run as the first leg of the World Racing Championships.

In the 1999/2000 season the Hong Kong Jockey Club introduced a HK$1m bonus for a winner of any of the four Hong Kong International Races (Hong Kong Cup / Hong Kong Mile / Hong Kong Vase / Hong Kong Sprint) who is able to go on and land the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup in the same season.

However, it is not an easy feat to win the bonus. It was not until 2002 that Eishin Preston from Japan finally completed a double in the Hong Kong International Races and the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup.

After capturing the Hong Kong Mile in December 2001, the Japanese contender made a return visit here the following April to start in the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup. He kicked strongly in the straight and defeated another Japan star Agnes Digital, victor of the 2001 Hong Kong Cup. Hong Kong Horse of The Year Indigenous was placed in this international race for the third time in four years.

In 2003, Eishin Preston, with his regular partner Yuichi Fukunaga in the saddle, became the first and only horse to win the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup back to back, with Hong Kong champion mare Elegant Fashion finishing second under Gerald Mosse.

A year later, Elegant Fashion was unlucky to be narrowly beaten by River Dancer and finish second again, although she was ahead of all overseas contenders. River Dancer, trained by John Size and ridden by Glyn Schofield, won at a Win price of HK$588, the longest in the race since it was opened to overseas horses.

In 2005, the then reigning Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby winner Vengeance Of Rain with Anthony Delpech on board claimed the race from South African representative Greys Inn, another son of his sire Zabeel. The pair by the same sire set a record for the race in achieving a quinella. In December 2005, Vengeance Of Rain landed the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup and was crowned champion of the World Racing Championships that year.

In 2006, Greys Inn's trainer and jockey Mike De Kock and Weichong Marwing returned for the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup with Irridescence.

The South African champion mare's original plan had been to race held up, but the running of the race required her to make all before defeating local contender Best Gift by a head. Irridescence was the first South African representative to win the race since London News's victory in 1997. Great Britain's Ouija Board, the 2005CXHK Vase winner, came third under Frankie Dettori.

The quality of the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby was once again confirmed in the 2007 Audemars Piguet QE II Cup as the John Moore-trained Viva Pataca, steered by Michael Kinane, produced a brilliant turn of foot to beat two Group 1 winners - Vengeance Of Rain and Admire Moon who had prevailed in the Dubai Sheema Classic and the Dubai Duty Free respectively at Nad Al Sheba less than a month earlier.

In 2008, after an unlucky third in the Dubai Duty Free, Archipenko produced an unstoppable stretch run under Kevin Shea to mow down some of the world's best at Sha Tin, bringing his trainer Mike de Kock his second victory in this race in three years. The South African raider had a comfortable length and three-quarters to spare over French-trained outsider Balius, with defending champion Viva Pataca behind in third.

In 2009, the Dubai Duty Free runner-up Presvis, trained at Newmarket by Luca Cumani, and ridden by Britain's champion jockey Ryan Moore who had only arrived in Hong Kong a few hours before the meeting, raced to an authoritative win on a turf track, re-classified as yielding, for his first Group One success. This was also the first victory in the event for a British raider. Local favourite Viva Pataca finished second, in front of Thumbs Up, the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby runner-up, ridden by Christophe Soumillon.

Last year, the eight-year-old Hong Kong champion horse Viva Pataca scored his second win in the Audemars Piguet QE II Cup to become the highest money earner in the history of Hong Kong racing. This victory took his total prize-money earnings to HK$80,232,500, eclipsing the HK$75,410,500 mark set by the 2005 AP QE II cup winner Vengeance Of Rain. The G1 Dubai World Cup runner-up Lizard’s Desire and Mercedes-Benz HK Derby champion Super Satin ran second and third, both defeated by just a neck. The race wasn’t run to suit the defending champion Presvis, who motored from last to finish fifth. Lizard’s Desire won the G1 Singapore Airlines International Cup at Kranji three weeks later, decisively turning the tables on G1 Dubai World Cup winner Gloria de Campeao.




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