Longines boosts big day by HK$4m
Hong Kong racing's 'turf world championships' showpiece on December 9 will see an increase in stake money with the transition to its new sponsor, Longines.
The Swiss watchmaker takes over from Cathay Pacific, the event partner for the past eight years, and the 2012 Hong Kong International Races will carry an additional HK$4 million in prize money across the four Group One events.
The Hong Kong Mile will remain the richest mile in the world on turf, despite remaining unchanged at HK$20 million in stakes, but the Hong Kong Cup rises HK$2 million to HK$22 million, and the Vase and Sprint rise HK$1 million each to HK$15 million.
Additionally, the Longines name will be appended to the traditional international lead-up event, the Group Two Jockey Club Cup (2,000m) on November 18, for which the prize money remains at HK$3 million. Yesterday's announcement did not include the other two international lead-ups in November, the Jockey Club Sprint and Jockey Club Mile, both formerly sponsored like the Jockey Club Cup by Cathay.
In percentage terms, the biggest increase from the Longines sponsorship will be for the International Jockeys' Championship, to be staged at Happy Valley on Wednesday, December 5 and now worth HK$800,000 in total prizes shared across the jockeys finishing first, second and third. Last year, the event offered prize money for the first and second finishers only, at HK$200,000 and HK$100,000.
Although the prize money increases themselves are modest, the total prize money of HK$72 million across the four feature events - up HK$16 million in the past 10 years - will see the meeting hold its place as the third-richest day's racing in the world, behind only the Dubai World Cup and Breeders' Cup.
'The Jockey Club and Longines share the same values and each has a long and distinguished history,' said Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'This strategic partnership further reinforces the world-class standing of the Longines Hong Kong International Races, widely recognised and respected as the 'turf world championships'.'
Meanwhile, top apprentice Vincent Ho Chak-yiu will not been seen in action again this season as a result of the left arm injury he suffered in February when he fell and was struck by a following horse.
Trainer Caspar Fownes, to whom Ho is assigned, said yesterday that the original assessment of the rider's injury may have slowed the process.
'The doctors originally didn't think that Vincent needed an operation to put screws in the arm but, as time went by and the bones weren't knitting properly, it became obvious that he did,' Fownes said. 'So he finally had that last month, they put seven screws in his arm, and he may be ready to ride some light work by mid-July but he won't ride a race again until next season.
'It's disappointing for Vincent because he had the fall on February 11 and should have been back riding ages ago, and all the time off has cost him the champion apprentice title. Brett Prebble broke his collarbone the same day and was back in three weeks.'
The total prize money being offered at this year's Hong Kong International Races, making it the third-richest day's racing in the world