The Hong Kong Jockey Club and Japan Racing Association yesterday announced the creation of the Asian Mile Series, a joint venture designed to bring international focus on two of the clubs' premier 1,600-metre races. Hong Kong's Group One Champion's Mile on May 14 now becomes an international Group One race, with prize money boosted from $4.5 million to $8 million and open to horses from around the world. The race also becomes the first leg of a trans-Asian double with Japan's number-one mile race, the US$1.7 million Group One Yasuda Kinen, held in Tokyo on June 5. Significantly, there will be a US$1 million bonus for winning both races, providing a total of US$3.7 million in prize money and incentives for the two-race series. The new concept may well reap an instant reward for the two premier Asian racing clubs as it is increasingly likely to be a target of champion Silent Witness after his next two engagements, the Chairman's Sprint Prize next Sunday and the Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup on April 24. Archie da Silva, who owns Silent Witness with wife Betty, said two weeks ago that if the HKJC and JRA were able to reach agreement on the creation of the Asian Mile Series, that he and trainer Tony Cruz 'would look at it very seriously'. Jockey Club chairman Ronald Arculli, in announcing the news yesterday, said the aim was to bring these mile races 'to the highest level of international racing'. 'Along with our friends at the JRA, we are very excited to take the leading role in the internationalisation of horse racing by establishing the Asian Mile Challenge,' Arculli said. 'This joint venture is the latest development in a history of close co-operation between our organisations but the real winners are the fans of top-class international racing.' To encourage horses to nominate for both races and maintain their eligibility for the bonus, horses entered for the Champions Mile will automatically be nominated for the Yasuda Kinen, unless the nominator declares otherwise. The Jockey Club said the maximum number of overseas horses that will be accepted for the Champions Mile will be seven, while nine internationals will be allowed to run in the Yasuda Kinen, where the field capacity is 18. Overseas horses invited to run in the Champions Mile will have all racing and travel costs, for both the combatants and their connections, met by the Jockey Club in line with the procedures already in place for the Cathay Pacific international races and the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup.