Stars send them over the moon

HKJC celebrate a tremendous festival of racing

A day after it was all done and dusted, the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) were still celebrating.

Backs were sore from all the pats and slaps and palms were red from the high-fives.

And why not?

They had put on a tremendous show and their "pets" - the horses, had done the rest.

They swept the board - winning all four events contested in the Longines Hong Kong International Races and oh, how the fans lapped it up.

On a chilly day - the coldest of the season so far, a vocal crowd, nearing 100,000, were on hand, at the Sha Tin Racecourse to witness, what turned out to be a stellar occasion of world-class sport.

They packed the grandstand and the lawn and cheered themselves hoarse when Glorious Forever romped home to lift the Longines Hong Kong Cup - the jewel in the tiara.

They thumped the railings, creating a celebratory din when trainer Frankie Lor sealed a breakthrough Group 1 with Mr Stunning in the Hong Kong Sprint and when he achieved a remarkable double thanks to Glorious Forever.

All that, after Exultant had set the ball rolling with a head-bobbing victory in the G1 Longines Hong Kong Vase.

Then, of course, there was Beauty Generation's sensational win in the Hong Kong Mile.

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the HKJC's Chief Executive Officer, said: "This is a dream result and it is extremely satisfying to see the depth and quality of Hong Kong horses rising to the fore to win four Group 1 races against top-class overseas challengers.

"It is an amazing achievement and I will stress again that we have only 0.7 per cent of the world's horse population here in Hong Kong."

He also praised Lor's achievements and said it was testimony to the HKJC's dedication to developing local talent to a world-class standard.

The four races on Sunday carried record purses, totalling HK$93 million ($16.2m), and crowned a week which also featured Silvestre de Sousa's exciting triumph on Wednesday night at a star-packed Longines International Jockeys Championship, as well as Frankie Dettori receiving the Longines World's Best Jockey Award at Friday night's gala dinner.

"This week was a feast of sport, not only for Hong Kong but also for the whole racing world," Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

"What we saw was four astonishing performances with Hong Kong the centre of attention and looking back at Wednesday, I think we were privileged to see the best International Jockeys Championship we have ever had, with a brilliant winner."

The event had attracted many world-elite horsemen, with 24 overseas horses competing from Japan, Britain, France, Ireland, Australia and Singapore.

He added: "If you look at the quality of horses at the races, we had to be very satisfied.

"We had 21 individual G1 winners and seven horses rated 120 or above."

He was also delighted with the day's turnover.

They reaped in a whopping HK$1.6 billion for the day's 10 races - a new Hong Kong record.

That's what you get when you bring in the stars. They send you over the moon.