In December 2000, William A. Nader was an interested visitor from the New York Racing Association at the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races (HKIR). Twelve months ago, he was the newly appointed Hong Kong Jockey Club executive director of racing as he witnessed the day from the inside for the first time. This year, Nader's role in the success of the HKIR meeting is palpable and so is his appetite for it. 'Coming in from outside, I think it's understated, or at least not fully appreciated here, just how much the growth of this international race meeting has meant overseas in terms of Hong Kong's reputation as a city,' he said last year. That day 12 months ago confirmed that view in his mind. 'This day is a real world championship and few days in horse racing can compare to it,' Nader said this week. 'There's Royal Ascot, the Dubai World Cup, the Melbourne Cup and the Breeders' Cup, but the comparisons are a very short list. As an outsider coming in last year, one of the really nice touches on the day is the playing of the national anthem of the winning horse. That gives a real Olympic-style feel to it, and for an owner, trainer or jockey to have a winner on international day at Sha Tin will be one of the great moments in their lives.' The 'turf world championships' has been the boast of the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races for some years now with Nader's forerunner, chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, often conceding that the tag remained an aspiration rather than an accomplishment. But Nader himself has been key in taking the meeting the extra metre or two that was needed and he is ready to call the tag a reality. 'The Breeders' Cup in the States is more like the Ryder Cup in golf - it's basically the Americans versus Europe. The meeting here has a much wider appeal, with horses from so many different countries - this time the original selections had horses from 38 different trainers and five continents - and I think that getting serious participation this year from North America-based horses has been the final piece of the puzzle,' Nader said. His influence back home is understood to have encouraged the involvement of some US heavyweights, including Hall Of Fame trainers Bobby Frankel (Out Of Control, HK Vase) and Neil Drysdale (Artiste Royal, Vase) this year, and attracting a Breeders' Cup winner in miler Kip Deville. 'In any sporting field, you can't have a world championship without the involvement of North America, and that had not been happening on anything but an occasional basis at the HKIR. Having them here, especially the honour of having a horse like Kip Deville, takes the meeting to the next level,' Nader said. Ironically, the stakes were higher for Kip Deville last year when Nader tried to persuade his ownership connections to come to Hong Kong after the horse's Breeders' Cup win. He was eligible then for a US$1 million bonus if he could win the Hong Kong Mile as well. 'They said no then, but told me that they would commit to targeting the race this year,' Nader explained. 'Of course, this year Kip Deville finished second in the Breeders' Cup, so he isn't eligible for the bonus this time, but his people have been true to their word and it's great to have them and their horse here. To get Americans coming is one thing, but to get the high-profile horses and trainers is even more important.' Nader said that the HKIR's place on the calendar at the end of the year probably had not made it an easy 'sell' in the early days but times had changed. 'By December, most of the top European or American horses have raced through the year and are looking for a break. They would run in the Arc in Paris or the Breeders' Cup in the States or the Japan Cup in Tokyo, with the idea that it would be the final run for the year,' he explained. 'Now, I think it says a lot for what has been established in Hong Kong that the same people are seeing this as a final target for their top-class horses for the year. We can't rest on our laurels by any means - the Breeders' Cup meeting is expanding year by year, the Japan Cup continues to be a big attraction and then there's Dubai early in the year that is now attracting a lot of the best horses. Those meetings are not going away. We must compete with them for the available talent, but the club has established a great day, a true world championship day, and I believe we can compete.'