Suborics forced to retire, but the old-timers get a reprieve
One tragic retirement, a number of 'unretirements' and prizemoney changes were the main developments during the summer break.
The Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint has had a prizemoney lift from HK$12 million to HK$14 million to bring it closer into line with the other three December internationals, while the Queen's Silver Jubilee is now worth HK$6 million, up from HK$4.5 million.
The Jockey Club has made changes to the four-year-old features, too, with the first of them, the Classic Mile dropped from HK$8 million to HK$6 million in stakes and the Derby Trial getting a makeover at its expense - the second four-year-old feature will have a name change to the Classic Cup, a lift to Group One status and to stake money of HK$6 million.
Class Four and Class Five horses will race for an extra HK$15,000 from now on, giving them a total rise of 10 per cent since 2006-07 and in line with rises in other grades during the same time, according to the club.
Sadly, popular Austrian jockey Andreas Suborics has been troubled by ongoing complications after emergency brain surgery in Hong Kong during April. He not only had to abandon a return for the 2010-11 season but retired from riding altogether in early August just days before his 39th birthday. The Jockey Club is still searching for a suitable replacement.
Suborics was one of Germany's most successful jockeys over two decades, gaining his greatest fame as the rider of globetrotting German star Silvano, winner of the QE II Cup at Sha Tin, the Singapore International Cup and Arlington Million among other feature events.
On the other side of the coin, the Jockey Club tweaked the rules on horse retirements, with 10-year-old retirees Connoisseur's Love, Whatabob and Pacific Alliance all becoming the first horses to be reinstated after compulsory age retirement. Connections of Super Ideal declined the opportunity.
The reason is the compulsory retirement will now take place upon a horse turning 11, allowing the 10-year-old Northern Hemisphere-breds a reprieve until January 1.
Also worth noting was apprentice Derek Leung Ka-chun taking the spotlight in Singapore last month, winning the Asian Young Guns series against apprentice riders from Australia, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore. He won on a countback after tying with local junior Mark Ewe.