On the Rails
Most of what there is to say about the International meeting this year has been said - and it's all good.
A foreign winner of the Sprint was overdue if the race is not to suffer the fate of the Japan Cup and be ignored by top-grade foreigners as tilting at windmills. To have had two English classic winners victorious in the Vase and Cup was a first and also a glowing endorsement of the transport, stabling and general conduct of the meeting that such valuable horses come at all.
Certainly the Sprint, in particular, indicated a passing of the baton among Hong Kong's elite ranks is going to happen over the passage of next 12 months and that comes as a relief in some ways.
It's always a concern when the seven-year-olds and eight-year-olds are not overtaken by younger horses, no matter how good the established horses have been and even allowing for the way the Hong Kong system looks after older stars by giving them few chances to race.
Not only Let Me Fight's fourth in the Sprint, but the unlucky efforts of Little Bridge and Lucky Nine, both potentially top milers by this time next year, suggest the future of local mile and sprint racing is in good shape, whether or not they turn up a new Sacred Kingdom. Especially when we add younger horses, including Admiration and Captain Sweet - in our opinion the latter is already as good as any of those named, though still an early three-year-old - who will be forces to be reckoned with in 2011.
But away from our own hopes and the general wrap-up of the obvious, one emerging quality of the International meeting is the performances of females.
Captain Obvious would note that Snow Fairy is exceptional but there is a pattern which has emerged in the past 10 years which suggests something about the timing or the races themselves does help the fillies and mares.
One possible theory is that three-year-old fillies from the northern hemisphere, for example, are just two weeks or so from their official fourth birthday, probably almost as strong as they are going to get but still in receipt of a significant seven pounds off male adversaries.
In the last 10 years, there have been 57 female runners across the four races, and they have landed six wins, another 10 minor placings and 26 prize-money cheques in all, totalling HK$88.74 million in earnings.
Averages tell plenty of lies but if put it in those terms, females to have raced in the Internationals in that decade have earned HK$1.56 million per head and that improves sharply again if you take away the Sprint and Mile, where 16 starters have registered just two thirds in the Mile as their best finishes and won only HK$3.81 million.
It's an angle we are sure that the club will take to recruitment discussions now that the world's biggest owner-breeders, the people most often racing top females, have shown an enthusiasm for the meeting.
In the last 10 years, there have been 57 female runners across the four races, and they have landed this many wins: 6