Hong Kong was a winner on the English racing scene this weekend with another successful edition of the annual Jockey Club-sponsored race day at Ascot - 48 hours after a major deal was struck to secure the future of the World Series Racing Championship. Rolls-Royce has signed a partnership deal with the World Series, which has been sponsorless since Emirates Airlines pulled the plug on its backing at the end of 2001. The move, announced on Friday, is a major boost for Hong Kong, which stages two of the 14 races in the series and has been one of the keenest supporters of the concept. The Hong Kong Jockey Club's top brass attended the meeting of World Series organisers which preceded the unveiling of the deal, and they were out in force on Sunday for the fourth edition of Hong Kong Day to be held at Ascot, which has assumed strategic importance in Hong Kong's drive to become a major player on racing's world stage. Ascot staged the second leg of the World Series on Saturday - the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, won by the Irish-trained Alamshar - and Hong Kong officials met many of the leading European owners and trainers at the course in a bid to drum up support for the International Races at Sha Tin. The showpiece of the December 14 race day is the $18 million Hong Kong Cup, the final leg of the World Series, and the Jockey Club will be hoping for a strong European presence after the Sars crisis meant only one representative from the continent travelled to Sha Tin in April for the Queen Elizabeth II Cup, the second leg of the World Series. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Jockey Club's director of racing, who was at Ascot, said: 'This is an important time because of the World Series meeting and because it marks the beginning of our drive to attract the best horses from Europe to our International Races in December. Our campaign starts now so that owners and trainers can include Hong Kong in their plans.' The highlight of Hong Kong Day's six races was the Hong Kong Jockey Club Sprint - the richest 1,000-metre handicap in Europe. The sprint was won by the 7-1 chance Salviati, who scooped the first prize of $500,000 for trainer Milton Bradley and little-known jockey Paul Fitzsimons. The trophies were presented by Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli and other club stewards in attendance were Simon Ip and Anthony Chow. Hong Kong Day is a well established event in the English racing calendar and attracted a record 16,000 crowd this year for its mix of high-quality racing and Chinese entertainment.