THE 2009 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races proved a day of celebration for Hong Kong and France as we witnessed records broken, memorable moments aplenty and a billion dollars plus in betting turnover.

Good Ba Ba became the first horse to win three times at the Turf World Championships by taking the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile for the third year running.

Sacred Kingdom won the Sprint for the second time and became the first repeat winner at the meeting after missing a year. He won the race in 2007 but did not compete last year.

Daryakana maintained French ascendancy in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase while her compatriot Vision D'Etat shrugged off an eleventh-hour injury scare to prevail from local hotpot Collection in the day's most valuable event, the HK$20 million Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup.

"We have enjoyed a tremendous day's racing, one of the best we have ever staged here on this great occasion," reflected Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

"It's also been great that Hong Kong horses have been able to match the Hong Kong team that did so well to win the football final at the East Asian Games yesterday!

"We have an attendance of over 56,000 at Sha Tin – 10,000 more than last year – and the betting turnover was very healthy, the highest for seven years. It all goes to show that Hong Kong racing is vibrant and thriving. It won't be easy to take this meeting to a higher level, but that's what we will strive for."

Mr William A Nader, the Club's Executive Director of Racing, added: "Today's meeting was billed as the greatest show on turf and we believe it lived up to expectations.

"To see Hong Kong fill the first four placings in the Sprint and Mile and to win two races here for the fifth year in a row is a great testament to the sport locally.

"But from the standpoint of a sporting spectacle and overall customer experience, the day really showed Hong Kong in very positive light and we are doing Hong Kong proud."

To summarise the other salient features of a terrific day of racing:

  • French jockeys won three of the four races with Gerald Mosse winning on Daryakana in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Vase; Olivier Doleuze on Good Ba Ba and Olivier Peslier on Vision D'Etat in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup.
  • Gerald Mosse equalled Peslier's record of six International wins in the Vase only to see Peslier reclaim the lead with his win in the Cup.
  • Mosse picked up the winning ride only after Christophe Lemaire was suspended in Japan a week earlier.
  • Hong Kong horses took the first four places in both the Sprint and the Mile - repelling an outstanding visiting force.
  • Hong Kong claimed the Sprint for the eighth year running and the Mile for the fourth time straight.
  • It was the fifth time in a row the four races were split two for Hong Kong and two for overseas.
  • Australian jockey and Hong Kong premiership leader Brett Prebble saved the day for his native country aboard the Australian-bred Sacred Kingdom in the Sprint.

Despite all the day's memorable moments, there's little doubt the hero was Good Ba Ba. His effort to claim a third straight Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile stamps him as one of the best milers to have graced the turf.

The Derek Cruz-trained seven-year-old has now won 11 times at the Sha Tin mile, including six at Group 1 level.

For his part, Olivier Doleuze was winning the Mile for the third time in four years having scored on The Duke in 2006 and on Good Ba Ba in 2007.

"He's certainly the best I've ridden. It's a privilege to have been a part of his story and to be back on him this year," the Frenchman enthused.

It was also notable, to say the least, that the Hong Kong sprinters were able to dominate a race described in various quarters as the best sprint run anywhere in the world in the past 20 years.

As to future plans for the winners: Vision D'Etat is expected to resume his campaign in Dubai; Daryakana will return to Europe for a spring preparation; Good Ba Ba is likely to be stepped up in distance in the New Year, while plans for Sacred Kingdom are yet to be determined.