PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 12:00am

Talk about your good neighbours, the QE II Cup just got a little bigger and without a single extra dollar from the Jockey Club or sponsor Audemars Piguet. The Japan Racing Association (JRA) has announced a bonus system to promote overseas participation in its international Group One race in late June, the Takarazuka Kinen (2,200 metres).

At US$2.1 million, the stake for the Takarazuka Kinen (TK) at Hanshin on June 29 starts off at a high mark anyway, but the JRA will pay a bonus of up to US$1 million if the TK winner is also the winner of one of 13 key international races during the year before.

Along with unrealistic possibilities like the Breeders' Cup Turf, England's King George and France's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which carry the maximum bonus on the sliding scale, the QE II Cup (2,000m) and Singapore International Airlines Cup (2,000m) are also on that list.

The QE II Cup and SIA Cup winners will each gain an extra US$800,000 prizemoney by winning the TK, so the winner of the QE II, SIA Cup and TK, could finish with over US$4 million in stakes from three races. Granted, the right horse is not easy to find but at least the programme is a possible.

Throw in the Australian Cup and The BMW in Australia during March and it looks remarkably like the start of an Asian series from where we're sitting. Now, who will start the ball to link up the Doncaster Handicap or All-Aged Stakes at Randwick, the Champions Mile at Sha Tin, and the Kranji Mile in Singapore with the Yasuda Kinen?