Longines clocks in as new HKIR sponsor
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is expected to announce prize money increases for the December international meeting at a press conference confirming that watchmaker Longines will take over from Cathay Pacific as the event sponsor.
In a bizarre piece of media management yesterday afternoon, the Jockey Club pre-announced the announcement to be made at next Wednesday's press conference, naming Longines as both its partner in the Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) at Sha Tin and the International Jockeys Championship (IJC) at Happy Valley, which precedes international day.
The company will also be announced as the 'official timekeeper' for the HKIR week. The five-year agreement will be signed next week and it is understood that an increase in stakes for the four international events - currently worth a combined HK$68 million in stakes - is also going to be part of the new sponsorship arrangement.
The success of the HKIR meeting in recent years has nevertheless brought calls from visiting foreign owners and trainers for Hong Kong to significantly increase prize money in order to compete more effectively for big-name horses with rival international meetings like the richer Dubai World Cup, where the main three races alone are worth a combined US$20 million.
This new sponsorship is expected to address those calls. Longines will replace Hong Kong's iconic airline, Cathay Pacific Airways, which has been the event's title sponsor since 2004, and the move further strengthens the ubiquitous watchmaker's heavy worldwide sponsorship of equine events within a very broad portfolio of partnerships in sporting pursuits of all kinds, from tennis to motor racing and from archery to monster trucks.
Total prize money, in Hong Kong dollars, at last year's International Races. That is set to change with the new sponsors