The racing action in Oz may be slowing down for the year, but in Hong Kong the best is yet to come with punters and racing fans around the world eagerly counting down the days until the 2011 Hong Kong International Races light up Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday December 11.
Recognised globally as one of the richest and most prestigious race meetings of the year, the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Raceday is headlined by four Group 1 showdowns, the entire program offering an epic HK$68 million (AUS$8.8 million) in total prize money.
One of the most important races on the card is the 2011 Hong Kong Mile, which is now the richest turf mile race in the world as stakes for the feature were boosted to HK$20 million (AUS$2.6 million) for this year’s edition.
2011 Hong Kong International Group 1 Races
- HK$20 million Hong Kong Cup (2000m)
- HK$20 million Hong Kong Mile (1600m)
- HK$14 million Hong Kong Vase (2400m)
- HK$14 million Hong Kong Sprint (1200m)
Attracting the best sprinters, stayers and middle-distance gallopers from across the globe, the Hong Kong International races are by invitation only for overseas thoroughbreds.
In fact, there are a larger number of international raiders than locals in the Hong Kong International races with horses from countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Singapore, USA, Singapore and Japan entered every year.
The original Hong Kong International Race nominations were taken in October, a total of 31 Australian-trained horses entered, 12 of which were Group 1 winners at the time.
The sole Aussie galloper now awaiting confirmation of a start in one of the events is Atomic Force, a possible runner in the 2011 Hong Kong Sprint and one of an expected seven internationals receiving an invite to the Hong Kong International Races this year.
Winner of the Group 1 The Galaxy (1100m) at Randwick back in April, Darren Smith’s Danehill Dancer six-year-old had a spring season of mixed results and was last seen finishing fourth to Ahdashim in the Turner Freeman Handicap (1100m) at Rosehill on October 29.
The selections for the 2011 Hong Kong International races will be announced at 6:00pm (HK time) on today, to be published by Races.com.au on Thursday November 24.
If Atomic Force misses out on selection for the Hong Kong Sprint 2011, connections will prepare for a trip to New Zealand for the Group 1 Railway Stakes at Ellerslie on New Year’s Day.
“The horse has met all the criteria and we deliberately came home early from Melbourne to get him ready for Hong Kong,” Dynamic Syndications owner Dean Watt said.
“If the Hong Kong trip doesn’t go ahead we’ll take him to New Zealand for the Railway Stakes.
“At set weights with penalties it is an ideal race for him.
“It’s not too much to keep him in work for New Zealand because the Railway is only two weeks after the Hong Kong race.”
The 2011 Hong Kong Sprint is also the final leg of the Global Sprint Challenge series.
The other major name Aussie race fans will be following at next month’s Sha Tin meeting is New Zealand galloper and regular visitor down under Jimmy Choux.
A five-time Group 1 winner, Jimmy Choux was most recently campaigning in Melbourne for the spring carnival having run second in the Group 1 Cox Plate (2040m) and a close fourth last start in the Group 1 Emirates Stakes (1600m) at Flemington on November 5.
The John Bary-trained Thorn Park four-year-old is set to represent the Kiwis in the 2011 Hong Kong Mile.
The final fields and barriers for the four elite levels at the meeting are then due out on Thursday December 8.
Races.com.au will publish the full Hong Kong International Race fields for next month’s meeting, so make sure you bookmark this site.
Punters in Australia don’t have to miss out on the elite betting opportunity the Hong Kong races present thanks to online bookmakers including our preferred, Luxbet.
Not only do Luxbet offer the most competitive range of betting odds and options on all of the local races, but they also have premium markets for the international features and will have odds open on the Hong Kong December races.