Blow for Kingdom backers as simulcast plea rejected
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has failed in its bid to gain special clearance by the Home Affairs Bureau to conduct simulcast betting on the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot in England when Sacred Kingdom runs in two weeks.
The club is only permitted to run simulcast wagering on 10 occasions per season under current legislation and the 10th will be tomorrow's Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo.
The late decision to supplement Sacred Kingdom for the prestigious Group One sprint on June 20 left the club without a vacant simulcast date, and a plea to the government to allow Hong Kong fans to back their champion legally has fallen on deaf ears.
Executive director of racing Bill Nader said yesterday that Home Affairs rejected the club's application according to the book.
'We were turned down as the simulcast exceeds the permitted maximum,' he said. 'We were already committed to the Yasuda Kinen - where there will also be two Hong Kong horses running on Sunday - so we couldn't really have switched to Sacred Kingdom's race. But this situation really backs up our request for more simulcast days to be available.'
The club is lobbying for five additional meetings per year and another 20 simulcast opportunities, but has yet to receive the government's answer.
'This just shows that having the extra simulcasts available, to be applied at our discretion, makes sense,' Nader said. 'We don't really like to be caught in a situation like this. If we got them, we would most likely commit most of those simulcast dates but not all and keep some free for situations like this.'
With Hong Kong's top horses travelling more frequently - Derby winner Collection is likely to run in Melbourne three times later this year, for example - the club is aware that fans wanting to back their champions may be channelled into betting with offshore bookmakers.
Sacred Kingdom is at odds of around 6-1 with British bookmakers operating ante-post markets on the Golden Jubilee.
Meanwhile, yesterday's Yasuda Kinen barrier draw was also a negative for fans keen to back Sight Winner and Armada tomorrow.
Armada will start from the same 16 barrier he had when second to Vodka last year, while Sight Winner has drawn the outside 18 gate. Trainer John Size reported both horses felt well in their gallops yesterday and he is hopeful of good showings if the pair have some early luck.