Champions Day delivers as big crowd relishes Group 1 quality
Champions Day drew 48,242 race-goers on Sunday, 29 April and the buoyant crowd was treated to an afternoon of outstanding Group 1 action on the Sha Tin turf.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, said: “Today our three Champions Day features showed exactly what world-class Group 1 racing is all about. It was a great day of racing, it was quality racing and the success shows the strength and depth in the sport here in Hong Kong. I think that’s something we can build on to make this day and this meeting even more successful, and, going forward, I would like to see more international competition – that is something we can see happening.
“There was some concern beforehand that there were not big field sizes for the three Group 1 races, but quality beats quantity,” he continued.
“Beauty Generation proved his championship credentials in the Champions Mile, and we saw two particularly amazing performances in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize and the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup: one was Ivictory, who must now be regarded as one of the top sprinters in the world; the other was Pakistan Star, who has shown his full potential in brilliant style.”
Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges dwelt on the outstanding victory of Pakistan Star in the afternoon’s standout feature, the HK$24 million APQEII Cup. The Kerm Din-owned gelding was purchased out of the 2016 Hong Kong International Sale, having been sourced and prepared by the Jockey Club’s International Sale team.
“William Buick, the jockey, is really of the opinion that Pakistan Star is one of the top 2000-metre horses anywhere in the world,” he said. “We are proud as he is one of our International Sale Griffins. I would like to congratulate our sales team of Mark Richards and Nick Columb, who bought this horse from the Arqana Deauville sale.”
Champions Day turnover was the highest ever for QEII Cup day, up by 6.4% on the same day last year.
“We had turnover of HK$1.526 billion,” Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said. “One of the key drivers of the positive increase is definitely commingling. With commingling, we had a figure of HK$244 million, which is up 133% on 2017. It shows that obviously these international events attract worldwide attention and that the quality of our racing and this race meeting is attractive worldwide. We have received the feedback we were hoping for.”
The CEO also paid tribute to the Club’s QEII Cup partner Audemars Piguet.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Audemars Piguet for the 20-year partnership,” he said. “It was really the first commercial partner we brought in for our international races and together we have developed this race from Group 2 status to one of the top Group 1 races in the world. I think this is very satisfying.” He also thanked the two of the world’s heavyweight racing entities for their Champions Day support.
“I extend the Jockey Club’s thanks to Godolphin and Sunday Racing for bringing top-class horses – Blue Point, Fine Needle, Al Ain and Danburite – to compete here today. We appreciate their patronage of one of our most important race days.