Six of the best as Player leaves Jockey Club with happy memories
The Jockey Club's departing International Racing Manager Mark Player says he will look back on his final international meeting as a culmination - when all the aspirations of his six years in the job came together to produce an unforgettable day.
'Seeing two English classic winners win at Sha Tin on the same day - Mastery in the Vase and Snow Fairy in the Cup - that is something I never thought I would see and I will remember forever,' Player said, ahead of leaving the Jockey Club tomorrow to return to Melbourne and begin a consultancy business.
'I wouldn't say it's all over - more a separation than a divorce as I'll have a consultancy role with the Jockey Club, recruiting horses for the international races. But it has been a great six years at the club here, working with a fantastic team from every facets of the club. And we have achieved a lot and today was the culmination of what we have done. We put on a day when great horses came and the racing was world class. And I think it's going to continue to grow in the future.'
Player believes Hong Kong has risen in stature significantly in the past six years, with the world's most famous owners now looking towards the meeting as never before.
'The only one who was missing today was the Aga Khan, who did have a runner for today but it was sold to new owners who had other targets in mind,' Player said.
'But that is the way it goes. The Aga Khan loves this meeting and I'm sure he will be back again. We had owners like Godoolphin, Khalid Abdullah, Bert Firestone, the Wildenstein family, and many, many others, but I l'm happy to say we don't forget lesser-known owners with a good horse - like the people with J J The Jet Plane or Fred Crabbia from Singapore.'
Everyone wants to come here now and that makes a great race day. I have so many memories of this job and all the international days - Silent Witness, Sacred Kingdom, Falbrav, convincing Ouija Board's connections to come after she had run a little below her usual in the Japan Cup and then she came and did something special in the Vase,' he added.