New incentives add spice to the Asian Mile Challenge

Organisers of the US$9.5 million Asian Mile Challenge have revamped the bonus structure in an effort to inject some life into the four-race series in 2011.

The Asian Mile Challenge (AMC) has struggled to gain much traction over several seasons, with cash bonuses offered for winning owners and trainers in the past failing to make much practical appeal.

There has been no change to the participating events in 2011, though the distance of the opening Australian leg, the Futurity Stakes, has been reduced to 1,400m. The Dubai Duty Free, 1,800m, the BMW Champions Mile, 1,600m and Yasuda Kinen, 1,600m, remain at the previously contested distances.

In the new bonus scheme, the first owner to win two AMC legs in the same year with the same horse will win a luxury car valued at US$100,000, in addition to the prize money accumulated.

Trainers will also compete for a US$100,000 car based on a system awarding points from first place back to sixth for any and all horses from the yard performing in AMC legs, with double points for races on foreign soil.

Trainers must score points in two or more countries to be eligible, and the trainer with the highest points total will be named 2011 AMC Champion after the running of the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo in June.

In other news, the John Moore-trained Able One was the important missing name from entries published yesterday for the Group One HK$8 million Stewards' Cup (1,600m) on Sunday week.

The absence of last season's champion miler, however, was not unexpected, with Able One not having galloped since his withdrawal from the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile in December when found to be lame behind at the barriers.

The Caspar Fownes-trained Thumbs Up, last year's Stewards' Cup winner Fellowship, Hong Kong Mile winner Beauty Flash and Hong Kong Cup runner-up Irian head the 13 entries received.