The Hong Kong Jockey Club bucked the current economic downturn by showing a stunning $5.4-million profit on their annual International Sale last night. In the luxurious surroundings of the Hong Kong Convention Centre, a dinner-jacketed gathering of more than 500 members and visitors watched 23 Lots snapped up for a total of $28.7 million. The fourth sale had been switched from a marquee at Sha Tin to the high-profile Convention Centre but went ahead amid forecasts of a major loss. There were some predictions of horses going for knockdown figures as the Jockey Club had not put a reserve on any Lot offered. It was a night for senior Jockey Club officials to savour as well as new owner Fung Kok-po, who paid the top price at the sale of $2.35 million for a son of Danehill - and then fled into the night as reporters and cameramen sought background information and pictures. 'I just want to say it is my first horse. I wanted to buy it but I don't want to say anything more. Maybe it will go to Ivan Allan because my friend has a horse there,' said the shy buyer. International Sale co-ordinator Simon Cooper expressed surprise and delight at the unexpected outcome of a sale which, in the past, has been dogged by controversy and not enough winners to advertise its potential. 'I can honestly say I am very surprised. I am afraid the economic problems are too well known and it would have been impossible to be confident, even though there were good reports about many of the Lots offered,' he said. 'It is really a tremendous boost. I have no doubt that the new surroundings also helped. There was a much better 'feel' to it all. We lost quite a lot of money on it last year and made only a very small profit the year before. That really just covered expenses. So this has been very, very encouraging.' Complete Jockey Club costs for the horses bought were listed in the catalogue and the total income of $28.7 million represented a profit of $5.41 million. Four Lots had earlier been withdrawn, three of them having returned positive swabs to an anabolic steroid, boldenone. The average price of $1,247,826 created a record and Cooper said: 'There was a strong trade throughout with many of them easily making over a million dollars. We did not have any silly figures this year, like $3.5 million, which was also good. 'It was a much better spread. Our lowest figure was $650,000 and that is higher than in previous years.' Danehill is synonymous with success in Hong Kong and there was a stir of anticipation when Lot 17, a bay colt, was led in. Out of a Doyoun mare, Karawasha, he had breezed well at Sha Tin on Thursday morning and there was an early flurry of bids. When bidding edged towards the $2-million mark, the handful of prospective buyers needed urging and it soon came down to two, with Fung putting in a final $50,000 to secure the attractive colt. Trainer Allan secured the Lot he was primarily interested in when a chestnut gelding by Jetball was knocked down to the Supreme Syndicate for $2 million. 'I had a go for an earlier one but it went too high for my liking. I was keen on the Jetball but it will almost certainly not race this season. He will take a bit of time,' said Allan, who also enthused over the new surroundings. 'This is the way to do it. It is the right atmosphere and the right place to auction horses. The Keeneland people did a fine job, too,' he said. This year's auctioneers were the Kentucky-based Keeneland Association Inc and business was crisply conducted. Former champion trainer Brian Kan Ping-chee picked up two Lots, setting the ball rolling by successfully bidding $1.25 million for the first offering, a chestnut colt by Salse. As in two other cases, the Jockey Club advised that the Salse colt was offered with a veterinary caution - in this case the two-year-old had sore shins. A three-month guarantee was given and money will be refunded if the horse remains shinsore at that time. Kan also bought a Doyoun dark bay gelding for $1,050,000 and Alex Wong Yu-on, a supporter of past sales, was successful when bidding for an attractive Centaine gelding and a Zilzal colt - the latter also coming with a three-month guarantee. At $800,000 and $1.1 million respectively, they could turn out to be astute buys.