Sponsor switch is a surprise but maybe time will tell
So, one week on, what did the Jockey Club actually win out of the new tie-up with Longines? It resembled something more like the shifting of the chairs than a new suite of furniture.
We presume that Cathay Pacific withdrew from the sponsorship of the international meeting after eight years for its own reasons, and Longines filled the vacuum, rather than the Jockey Club preferring the Swiss watchmaker.
While the extra HK$2 million stake money on the Cup and a million each on the Sprint and Vase were welcome under the new arrangement, they were hardly startling increases that might have owners and trainers retargeting Hong Kong instead of going somewhere else. If the purpose of the exercise was to keep up with rival meetings chasing the same equine personnel, then it seems a very lukewarm attempt. Maybe there is more to come later.
With the switch to Longines, the club has also lost the sponsorship of two of its international trial races in November, the Jockey Club Sprint and Jockey Club Mile with the new name only to be attached to the Jockey Club Cup on that day.
If a new sponsor is found for the other two, then that may necessitate splitting the trial events up again after the club had built that into a worthwhile standalone fixture.
And, even without knowing details of the previous arrangement with Cathay, one would have to think the background benefits of a partnership with an airline would have stretched further for an event where the club flies in up to 40 horses and several times that many grooms, trainers, jockeys, owners and a media contingent travelling on subsidised tickets.
But then Longines will bring its role as the 'official timekeeper'. Maybe all the races will be run on time.