The Hong Kong International Races yesterday consolidated their position as the end-of-year world turf championships after a 10.7 per cent prize-money boost and a positive change of distance for the Hong Kong Sprint. The four races will be worth a total of $62 million - up from $56 million last year - while the Hong Kong Sprint has been lengthened to 1,200 metres in a bid to make it more appealing to the best international turf sprinters. Jockey Club executive director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, foreshadowed the possibility of change last year, saying after local horses had taken the first five placings in the Sprint that the straight 1,000 metres course had become 'too much a specialist course for local horses'. Yesterday, that hint became reality and the best local sprinters must now stretch their stamina to 1,200 metres. Engelbrecht-Bresges said last night that the changes reflected the Jockey Club's commitment to excellence in general, and to this international window into Hong Kong racing in particular. 'The Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races have earned a reputation for prestige and excellence, but we cannot rest on our laurels,' he said. 'To maintain its status as the turf world championships, it is our duty to upgrade prize-money and amend the programme where necessary.' Apart from the distance change, the Hong Kong Sprint has been given a $2 million prize-money increase from $10 million to $12 million. The Hong Kong Vase (2,400m) remains the same value at $14 million, while the Hong Kong Mile has been boosted by $2 million to $16 million . The other $2 million was spent on Hong Kong's richest race, the Hong Kong Cup (2,000m) which now boasts prize money of $20 million and consolidates its position as one of the world's great races. That one day in December has, in recent years, hosted some of the greatest moments in world horse racing - the extraordinary clash of Sunline and Fairy King Prawn in the Mile in 2000, the thundering win in the Cup of world champion Falbrav in 2003, and the dual Sprint wins of the incomparable Silent Witness (2003, 04). And who can forget Hong Kong's greatest day in international competition, December 15, 2002, when locally trained Precision (Cup), Olympic Express (Mile) and All Thrills Too (Sprint) were all victorious. The Hong Kong International Races will be once again the world's richest day of turf racing, with between 35 and 40 elite international thoroughbred athletes facing up to the cream of the Hong Kong crop at Sha Tin. The world's leading racehorse owners, trainers and jockeys are now targeting Hong Kong in December, and the meeting's global stature has continued to rise with each passing year.