Split in Group One races to stay in place

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 May, 2011, 12:00am


Jockey Club officials emerged comfortable with the results of splitting the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth II Cup and BMW Champions Mile this year and confirmed it would become the regulation setting in the future.

The two international Group Ones have been on the same card for the past four years but that changed this year with the addition of BMW as a new sponsor and executive director of racing Bill Nader said the result had been pleasing. 'What will be different next year will be the QEII will be run the week before the Champions Mile, four weeks after the Dubai meeting and three weeks before the big Singapore meeting,' he said. 'The Champions Mile will move to a regular date at the beginning of May, one week after the QEII.'

Nader said that, despite attracting only three foreign runners to each race, the week had been a success.

'The quality of the visiting horses was good and we also got full fields for both the races, which I don't recall happening in the past,' he said. 'Our numbers held up across the board, with crowds and turnover good when you considered the week overall and we were very happy with it. The racing was excellent, the performances of a high calibre and I'm not sure we could have asked for much more.'

He said there were no structural changes planned for the two international races, with the Champions Mile having only recently had an injection of prize money to take it from HK$8 million to HK$12 million.

Meanwhile, Singapore superstar Rocket Man won his 15th race and gave an exhibition of what will be required if he is to be beaten for a third time in the KrisFlyer Sprint at Kranji later this month.

The Golden Shaheen winner in Dubai toyed with the opposition in winning a third straight Lion City Cup (1,200m) by five lengths, eased down. His rider, Barend Vorster, said he believed Rocket Man had returned from Dubai an even better horse.

Rocket Man has been run down by Hong Kong's Sacred Kingdom and Green Birdie in the past two KrisFlyer Sprints and both are expected to oppose him again this year.