Club delighted as US entries flood in

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 12:00am

The Jockey Club's delight at receiving 87 entries from the United States for the International meeting was understandable - especially in light of some of the excuses offered by American owners for non-attendance in the past. One owner refused to come last year for the simple reason that there were no direct flights from Los Angeles which offered smoking areas. If he couldn't smoke en route, he wasn't coming.

But perhaps the most remarkable story concerns the WWII veteran who withdrew his horse before last year's meeting after it had been entered by the trainer, who thought it had an outstanding chance of victory.

The owner, though, refused to send his horse because he had fought against Hong Kong in the war and would not budge, even after it was explained that Hong Kong was part of China, not Japan, and had been occupied during the war.

The Jockey Club has spent almost $12 million in the past fortnight at the Tattersalls Houghton and Goffs Orby sales, the top yearling auctions in Britain and Ireland respectively. The nine purchases - who will be resold at the 2002 Piaget International Sale - include a three-parts brother to Indigenous by Marju, who cost $768,000. The most expensive was a $2.08 million son of Diesis who is the first foal of the Listed-placed Zafonic mare Souffle.

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, who was at Goffs, said he was delighted with the quality and value of the purchases. Away from the sale ring, however, he caused some confusion for the Irish Thoroughbred Marketing group, which refunds the air fares of overseas buyers. Staff were struggling with the double-barrelled name until a senior executive came to the rescue by producing the Hong Kong supremo's business card.

Maybe that explains why so many people refer to him as 'E. B.'