Dubai could provide rich pickings for HK

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 September, 2003, 12:00am

With no new sponsor yet named for the World Series championship, one has to wonder whether the last edition of it will have its finale at Sha Tin on December 14.

Since the withdrawal of first the sponsor Emirates Airlines, then earlier this year Dubai racing itself, from the World Series, the whole proposition has looked decidedly shaky despite the goodwill and enthusiasm which has taken it this far.

Traditionally, the Breeders Cup meeting in October is the venue for discussion of the concept and this year's congregation at Santa Anita will be hungry for good news if the series is to survive for another year.

But that is not to say that internationalisation of racing is to peter out. With Hong Kong now a steering force in the Asian Racing Federation (ARF) under Lawrence Wong's chairmanship, the idea of an Asian series has gained renewed strength. More news is expected after ARF delegates have another chance to meet during the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe weekend in Paris early in October and rumour has it that a 2004 Asian series is a real possibility. Who will participate and what races will be offered are details to be hammered out. And Dubai this week announced the revitalisation of its World Cup carnival, converting the event from a one-day gala to a 10-meeting extravaganza.

Fifty-five races worth US$21 million will now comprise the Dubai World Cup meeting, staged over a two-month period from the end of January until the Cup meeting at the end of March, including 16 Group or Listed races.

As with previous World Cups, the administration in Dubai will underwrite the chance an owner takes for international glory by meeting the costs of transportation and providing other incentives. Nobody is going to pretend that these races will be easily won, regardless of their rating status, but it is interesting that World Cup meeting races will now be conducted for horses on international ratings down as low as 85.

There is a flood of horses coming into Hong Kong with ratings at this level and above, and we can only hope that the quest appeals to some of the more adventurous owners and trainers.

With so many of the Dubai races on dirt, there may be opportunities for some of Hong Kong's dirt specialists, whose talents deny them all-weather track opportunities once they have made it to the higher grades.