Prominent Hong Kong owner Boniface Ho Ka-kui has bought a slot in the world’s richest turf race, The Everest, for his boom three-year-old Classique Legend.
Ho, who owns the likes of Southern Legend and Sichuan Dar in Hong Kong, purchased the spot in the A$14 million (HK$77.1 million) sprint off GPI Racing with his Australian-based racing manager Carmel Size.
Ho is believed to have paid upwards of A$600,000 (HK$3.3 million) for the slot in The Everest, which will be run at Royal Randwick in October, but is set to get a return no matter where Classique Legend finishes with last position returning A$300,000.
“Mr Bon Ho is a devotee of racing and as much as he would love to see his horse winning in Hong Kong, he is relishing the challenge of tackling the best in The Everest,” Size said.
“It is even more satisfying to have purchased the GPI slot from Inglis, as that is where Classique Legend was purchased.”
Ho is the first Hong Kong owner to buy a slot in the race.
Classique Legend has been defeated just once in his four-start career, which includes a slashing win in the Group Two Arrowfield Sprint (1,200m) and is expected to come to Hong Kong to race after the Everest on October 19.
Caspar Fownes – who has Southern Legend – is set to train the speedster when he arrives in Hong Kong with an eye on December’s Group One Hong Kong Sprint (1,200m).
Classique Legend’s Australian trainer Les Bridge described the three-year-old as “the real deal” recently.
“Les Bridge is particularly excited at the news and while we acknowledge Classique Legend will need to go to the next level, we have every faith in his ability which Les believes is still untapped,” Size said.
This is the first slot to go up for sale in the two-year history of the race which has been won on both occasions by Redzel.
GPI Racing’s Greg Ingham said the decision to sell its Everest slot for 2019 came on the back of the retirement of champion sprinter Chautauqua.
“When we purchased our slot in The Everest, it was with a view to our champion Chautauqua competing in the race year after year,” he said.
“He is essentially retired, therefore we have decided to make the opportunity to be part of this great race available to someone else.”
Defeated Chairman’s Sprint Prize favourite Santa Ana Lane is also expected to push on to The Everest with hopes of a possible return in December for the Hong Kong International Races after quarantine restrictions between Hong Kong and Australia were eased recently.
Classique Legend is rated a $12 chance with Australian fixed-odds agencies and is the second confirmed horse in the race.