Jenny - Clean

In a new departure aimed at assisting overseas horses targeting the Turf World Championships, the Racing Committee of the Hong Kong Jockey Club has approved the participation of up to four foreign runners in each of the key November trials for the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races a month later.

The three prep races concerned are the Cathay Pacific International Cup Trial on 15 November and the Cathay Pacific International Sprint and Mile Trials on 22 November.

Each of these set weights races carries HKGr.2 status. As such, it will be the first time that non Hong Kong-based horses are not restricted to the six international Gr.1 races on the calendar.

The total prize-money for each race amounts to HK$3m and declaration fees for overseas runners shall cost the same as for local horses - HK$9,000.

“Trainers are looking to optimize their chances of winning when they travel internationally and this move is designed to facilitate top class international thoroughbreds with serious designs on our best races,” explained Mr William A Nader, the Club’s Executive Director of Racing.

“We believe this initiative will also help horses not entered in the Breeders’ Cup or the Japan Cup who have our December showpiece as their main goal. It will help them acclimatize to Sha Tin and top off their preparation. It will also give our fans an early insight into these horses’ capabilities before the big day.”

Scenic Blast, the world’s joint top-ranked sprinter, could be among the first horses to take advantage of the new regulations.

The Australian-trained winner of the Lightning Stakes in Melbourne and the King’s Stand Stakes is currently in Japan preparing for the Sprinters Stakes and, chasing the Global Sprint Challenge bonus of US$1m, is also being strongly considered for its final leg, the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint.

“Using Scenic Blast as an example, there is a gap of more than two months between the Sprinters Stakes and the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint. Opening up the Cathay Pacific International Trials, we feel, gives trainers of horses of this calibre more options when it comes to race planning for the second Sunday in December,” Mr Nader added.


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