SA and Singapore superstars show it can be done
South African sensation J J The Jet Plane has done more for the Hong Kong Sprint than arguably any horse in the race's history, according to chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges - who feared the slow death of that leg of the 'World Turf Championships' had the local sprinters continued to dominate.
Thousands cheered as sentimental favourite Sacred Kingdom let loose on the home turn and looked the winner in the Hong Kong Sprint but, as much as everyone hoped for another local win, the performance of visitors J J The Jet Plane and Rocket Man has breathed life into a race that has incrementally become less and less attractive to visiting runners.
'I would have loved to see a local win from a personal perspective of course, but having a visiting horse win this race is absolutely the best thing for the race,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'If our horses had dominated again, the world championship of sprinting might have become a local event only, because it was beginning to look too imposing for visitors to beat our horses at home.
'Now J J The Jet Plane, and Rocket Man, too, have shown the world that it is possible to perform and win here, and in the medium to long term, that will benefit this race enormously.'
The proof of Engelbrecht-Bresges assessment came in the entries for this year's Sprint, with just one mare, Ortensia, making the trip from Australia, after much larger support from Down Under in recent years.
With English invitee Kingsgate Native and the singular South African and Singaporean entrants making up the remainder of the international contingent, a real possibility loomed that overseas participation would continue to drop had another Hong Kong horse triumphed.
The fact that all four international entrants produced impressive performances is also good for the continued international participation in the race, according to Engelbrecht-Bresges.J J The Jet Plane also ended one of the biggest filips in Australian yearling auction rings yesterday, by becoming the first horse bred outside Australia to win the Group One Hong Kong Sprint.
End of an era
J J The Jet Plane ended the local sprint domination, which had held for this number of years: 8