LAST week's announcement that a third race will be added to next season's International Cup and Bowl programme is another major step forward for racing. Under the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club's planning, International week has quickly established itself as one of, if not the most, cosmopolitan affairs in the world of racing, drawing renowned figures from Australia, Canada, England, France, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia and Singapore, New Zealand and the United States. An extra 2,400-metre race can only add to the programme's increasing stature and thrust it further into the limelight, especially as it is likely to attract some decent stayers from Europe where, arguably, the best stayers in the world are trained. This is the bottom line. But at the same time the distance of this new race has major implications for both the Cup and the Bowl as well as for the domestic Derby which, for the good of racing, cannot and must not be overlooked. The Classic racing distance is 2,400 metres or a mile and a half. In contrast, races run over 1,400 metres (the distance of the Bowl) do not mean very much and races run over 1,800 metres (the distance of the Cup) hardly mean anything at all. The introduction of a 2,400-metre event, which is to horse racing what the heavyweight championship of the world is to boxing, throws the rest of the International programme out of kilter. Compared to 1,800 metres and 1,400 metres it is the prestige distance and, given that it is logical to assume the entry conditions for the race will be the same for those of the Cup and the Bowl, it is likely to attract some very smart horses from Europe - far smarter than the European counterparts entered for the shorter races. One solution to put the programming back in kilter would be to tweak the distances of the other two races, making one a mile event and the other a sprint down the straight 1,000 metres. The Cup could become the focal point and run over 2,400 metres while the mile event and the sprint are clearly contests run over distances which are very meaningful in their own right - which is precisely not the case as things stand with the 1,800-metre Cup and the 1,400-metre Bowl. The only trouble here is that the international authorities may not permit such a change in distances. The Jockey Club have achieved much in a short time with the Cup and Bowl which are almost certain to be awarded International Group Two and Group Three status for next season as they slowly work their way towards their ultimate aim of Group One recognition. A change in distance for these races, however laudable and right, once a 2,400-metre race has been introduced, may not be ratified by those who look after the world's Group races. But it is certainly worth a try. The introduction of the 2,400-metre International event also has major implications for our own Derby which is run over that nebulous distance of 1,800 metres. For a start, the 2,400 metres is generally recognised throughout the world of racing as the true Derby distance. Secondly, the introduction of such a race is likely to lead to Hong Kong owners buying yearlings blessed with a stouter pedigree or raced stock which have shown more signs of stamina than their past purchases. And thirdly, there will have to be a change in race programming to allow for a well-structured lead-up campaign to the 2,400-metre event for the domestic horses. All this begs a further question. How long can the Hong Kong Derby remain at its current amorphous 1,800 metres? The fact of the matter is that it can't. It is as anachronistic as the Flat Earth Society and should be changed from next season. SATURDAY'S Derby Trial tumult saw a vintage performance from Lester Piggott. But even knowing the quality of the ride he gave to short-head winner, Sterling Town, it is still possible to take the great man a bit for granted. Most sportsmen or athletes lose a little of their motivation or competitiveness once they have reached the pinnacle of their chosen event. Not so with Lester and all this an incredible 45 years after he rode his first winner. When you sit back and interpret some of the bare facts - he has been riding winners for the past six decades and rode his first winner before Darren Gauci's father was even born - it is quite an amazing feat by quite an amazing man. Where the motivation comes from for this 58-year-old grandfather is a mystery. Better just to enjoy the presence of a living legend and grab every opportunity of seeing him in action because when they made Lester they broke the mould.