HK trip bonanza to spur on Caviar
Unbeaten Aussie sensation Black Caviar will have a million more reasons to come to Hong Kong in December if she lives up to everyone's expectations and wins tonight's Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Victory in the prestigious 1,200-metre sprint would make the five-year-old champion mare eligible for a US$1 million bonus which she could clinch by winning the Hong Kong Sprint at Sha Tin.
Black Caviar, who is unbeaten in 21 starts, won the first leg of the reformulated Global Sprint Challenge - requiring a horse to win a series race in three different countries - when she romped home in February's Lightning Stakes at Flemington.
Combined with the US$1 million carrot, the HK$14 million Group One feature on international day in December would become the 'biggest pay day ever for a 1,200m race', according to Hong Kong Jockey Club director of racing Bill Nader.
'If she can win the Diamond Jubilee it will certainly help us,' Nader said. 'She could come to Hong Kong, irrespective of the bonus.'
Helping the Jockey Club's cause is trainer Peter Moody's fondness for Hong Kong and a recent trip to Sha Tin. 'He spoke to us about his options and said it could be a target at the end of the season,' Nader said. 'He was pretty familiar with Hong Kong anyway, but it was great for him to see how things work and visualise how it would be for Black Caviar.
'Our fans here are so aware of who she is and what she has accomplished. To have a marquee name like that on our flagship day would be an incredible thing for Hong Kong and international day.'
The easing of requirements of the Global Sprint Challenge have made the once-derided series more achievable, and Danny Shum Chap-shing's King's Stand Stakes winner Little Bridge could also be eligible for the bonus in December if he can win the Sprinters Stakes in Japan in October.
'You used to have to win three races outside your home jurisdiction. Now it has been changed to three in total,' Nader said.
'Before, the Global Sprint Challenge was just a series of races that was impossible to win. You just couldn't get close. We knew when we loosened it that we were making it a lot easier for a really top sprinter like her, but we did it anyway.'
Moody said yesterday Black Caviar's preparation had gone smoothly.
Black Caviar appears to have a few lengths on what seems a moderate field, but Moody said jockey Luke Nolen won't be sent out to match the heroics of Frankel earlier in the week, when the unbeaten entire won the Queen Anne Stakes by 11 lengths and enhanced his status as the world's top-ranked horse.
'There's been a line of thought we should put them to the sword and do a Frankel and gap them,' Moody said. 'But we're not going to let the hype get to us. We're out there to win - a quarter of an inch will do me, get the cheque and get home.'