HK 'safe option' for overseas challengers
American entries for the International meeting are unexpectedly high despite travel concerns following the September 11 attacks. The fallout could bring an added benefit for Hong Kong with higher insurance premiums for equine transport to the US from Europe likely to see a number of horses switched to the Sha Tin showpiece from the Breeders' Cup in New York later this month.
'We don't like to see it as a positive thing, but it is true that insurance costs for sending horses to the United States could mean some horses come to Hong Kong which might otherwise have run at the Breeders' Cup,' said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Club's director of racing. 'We are not seen as a high-risk area and insurers are not demanding extra premiums to come here.'
The Jockey Club had feared American entries would drop in the wake of the terror attacks but the list of 87 nominations is the highest from a single country. Morluc, last year's Sprint runner-up, leads a particularly strong representation in the 1,000-metre event. 'We were worried after September 11, but we are delighted with the response from the United States,' said Engelbrecht-Bresges, who added that several American owners had contacted the Club directly to enter horses.
On the travel implications for the International meeting, with up to 12 countries sending horses, Engelbrecht-Bresges said: 'We don't anticipate any problems at the moment, but we are in day-to-day contact with our travel agents.'