|Saturday, February 24, 2007||Contact: Mark Player, Hong Kong Jockey Club |
|Hong Kong to host qualifying race for US Breeders' Cup|
The Group I Hong Kong Jockey Club Champions Mile will become the first race held outside the United States in the new Breeders’ Cup Challenge, a series of official qualifying races for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, officials of Breeders’ Cup Limited announced today in conjunction with the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Both the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Breeders’ Cup Limited also announced that, for the first time, racing fans in Hong Kong will be able to wager on this year’s Breeders’ Cup World Championships races.
In addition to hosting the first non-U.S. Breeders’ Cup Challenge race, the Hong Kong Jockey Club will be further linked to the Breeders’ Cup by way of a $1 million (U.S.) bonus to any horse that wins the NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile on turf (Grade I) and another of the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s premier events, the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile on turf (Group I), which is traditionally held in early December at Sha Tin Racecourse, in the same year. The two parties will co-fund the bonus.
In 2006, Breeders’ Cup Limited introduced the Breeders’ Cup Challenge and its “Win and You’re In” designation, a series of 24 officially sanctioned races whose winners qualify automatically for their respective divisional races for the $23 million, 11-race Breeders’ Cup World Championships (provided they are nominated and otherwise eligible for the Breeders’ Cup) which will be held October 26 and 27 at Monmouth Park in New Jersey.
Scheduled for April 29 and carrying a purse of just over $1 million (U.S.), the 2007 Champions Mile at Sha Tin will be the first in a proposed international expansion of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge, Breeders’ Cup officials said. The Champions Mile was inaugurated in 2001 and was won for the last two years by Bullish Luck, first upsetting the previously unbeaten Silent Witness in 2005 and last year netting a $1 million (U.S.) bonus for adding a second victory in the four-legged Asian Mile Challenge in the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo.
“The Breeders’ Cup World Championships attract the very best Thoroughbreds from around the world,” said Bill Farish, Breeders’ Cup Chairman. “Extending the Breeders’ Cup Challenge to some of the top international races is a natural development of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge. We are excited to welcome the Hong Kong Jockey Club Champions Mile the first international race under the Breeders’ Cup Challenge banner in 2007.”
Mr. John C C Chan, Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, welcomed the news saying: "It is one of the greatest compliments yet paid to the continued rising quality of Hong Kong racing that two of our signature international races are to tie in with the Breeders' Cup. We are very proud and delighted to have reached a strategic partnership that also strengthens Hong Kong's position at the cutting edge of international racing."
Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the HKJC's Chief Executive Officer, added: "Racing's future lies in its globalisation, and it is vital that we promote it as a sport that transcends local borders.
The Champions Mile is likely to be the only non-U.S. race in the Breeders’ Cup Challenge in 2007, but the program is expected to expand beyond that in 2008 to include additional international races, Breeders’ Cup officials indicated.
As part of the agreement, the Hong Kong Jockey Club will accept wagering on the Breeders’ Cup World Championships and advertise and promote the event to its account holders.
“One of the primary areas of future growth for the Breeders’ Cup is the international wagering market, and Hong Kong is a lynchpin of that growth,” said Greg Avioli, Breeders’ Cup President. “We look forward to marketing the Breeders’ Cup World Championships to the enthusiastic racing fans in Hong Kong, in particular, and to other markets in Asia.”
The two parties will also conduct joint marketing and cross-promotional programs to be developed in the coming months.
Breeders’ Cup Limited administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships; Thoroughbred racing’s year-end Championships consisting of 11 races and $23 million in purses. The organization also administers the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, and the Breeders’ Cup Stakes Program. Breeders’ Cup Ltd. is located in Lexington, Ky. Breeders’ Cup press releases appear on the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and at the Web site for the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, breederscup.com.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is Hong Kong's only authorised operator of horse racing. This is realised through a unique not-for-profit business model whereby surpluses go to charitable and community projects. The Club's vision is to be a world leader in the provision of horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment, and Hong Kong's premier charity and community benefactor.
Free Nominations for the Champions Mile close on March 9, 2007. Nominations can be made online at www.hkjc.com/english