The fact we have three horses heading to Singapore for their annual showcase meeting a week on Sunday is a powerful reminder of just how far we have come in a short space of time with the international racing agenda. It's hard to believe that it's less than 10 years - 91/2 to be precise - since the late Jockey Club chairman Alan Li Fook-sum called a power summit on the subject. That was immediately after the 1998 December international meeting and Li was determined Hong Kong would no longer be an easybeat on the world stage. It's hard to believe now, but it wasn't a universally popular agenda. In fact, one of the leading trainers at the time was a loud and trenchant critic, arguing that it was stupid to send our best horses overseas simply to get bashed, and it was equally insane to offer huge prize money in December and then bring in the rest of the world to sweep away just about every dollar of it. Li, however, didn't become a leader in the accounting industry and chairman of the Jockey Club by thinking small. Together with his new director of racing, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Li created a series of incentives for owners to upgrade the quality of their bloodstock, was relentless in selling the idea and in no time at all the rewards started to trickle in. Fairy King Prawn won the Hong Kong Sprint 12 months later, and then gained a landmark victory in the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo in June 2000 - the first Group One on foreign soil for a Hong Kong-trained horse. The next watershed was the 2002 December internationals when locals won three of the four Group Ones - All Thrills Too, for trainer David Hayes in the Sprint, Olympic Express (Ivan Allan) in the Mile and Precision (David Oughton) in the Cup. But it was a mere mortal called Cape Of Good Hope who really galvanised everyone's sense of self belief. The Cape Crusader, as he fondly became known, had lived in the perpetual shadow of the great Silent Witness. His last local win had been in October 2002, and it was only when trainer Oughton went overseas, seeking a Silent Witness-free zone, that he gained some respite with a win in the Australia Stakes at Moonee Valley, Melbourne, in February 2005. Four months later, Cape Of Good Hope did it again, this time under even more auspicious circumstances. The scene was the Royal Ascot meeting (staged at York as a one-off while Ascot was being rebuilt) and the race was the Group One Golden Jubilee Stakes. Cape Of Good Hope became the new poster boy for international racing, critical mass was quickly achieved and his success was undoubtedly the spur that made owner Archie da Silva and trainer Tony Cruz try Silent Witness on foreign soil, too. Silent Witness won the 2005 Sprinters Stakes at Nakayama, and stablemate Bullish Luck took the Yasuda Kinen the following June. Vengeance Of Rain then gave Hong Kong perhaps its finest international moment in March 2007, with his win in the US$5 million Dubai Sheema Classic - a pillar achievement for our industry as Vengeance took on and defeated the best at the distance category, generally accepted as our weakest division. Six international Group Ones, plus multiple placings from horses like Indigenous, Silent Witness, Bowman's Crossing, Super Kid, Bullish Luck and most recently Viva Pataca have all played a part in this evolution. There has been a downside, however, that is now hitting home. As Japan previously found when it began to repeatedly defeat the visitors in the Japan Cup, Hong Kong's high level of success has become a real disincentive to connections of the top overseas horses. That's why it's great to see the Mike de Kock-trained Archipenko come and win the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup just 10 days ago, with an unheralded French horse in Balius running second ahead of Viva Pataca. As much as consistent winning in these big races polishes the local egos, an 'unbeatable' reputation is simply bad for business.