High calibre of participants a boost to HK racing
HKJC CEO says Hong Kong racing has 'come a long way'
While addressing the strong growth and new highs of the just-ended season, Hong Kong Jockey Club chief executive officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges also noted the high calibre of participants in Hong Kong - from elite jockeys and trainers, such as this season's record-breaking champions Joao Moreira and John Size, to world-ranked horses.
"It is only 20 years since Hong Kong was first represented in the international rankings with Johan Cruyff, so to end 2016 with 26 horses in the World's Best Racehorse Rankings, which is a record for us, shows that we have come a long way," he said.
"It will be tough for us to top that figure next season, given our population of only 1,200 horses and the recent retirements of our stars like Able Friend, Designs On Rome and Aerovelocity."
He pointed to some exciting highlights in the 2016/17 season, particularly Rapper Dragon's historic sweep in the three-race Hong Kong Four-Year-Old Classic Series, and some fine Group 1 performances at Sha Tin's big international race days.
"We have witnessed some exceptional sport this season," he said.
"Our international races were again world-class in December, thanks to Maurice in the LONGINES Hong Kong Cup and Satono Crown's defeat of Highland Reel in an outstanding Hong Kong Vase - the form of that race has held up very strongly since.
"And Hong Kong horses emphasised their talents once again, taking the first four places in the LONGINES Hong Kong Mile and LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint."
The season's total race-day attendance was 2.167 million, while average attendance came in at 24,600 - the same figure as a year ago.
Looking to the future, Engelbrecht-Bresges said that with the final stage of the Racecourse Master Plan almost complete, the Jockey Club will continue to provide on-course entertainment options suited to its various customer segments.
"In the face of an abundance of competing personal entertainment options, we have made a conscious effort to provide modern, interactive and engaging racecourse experiences, and we greatly appreciate the on-going support of racing fans," he said. - HKJ