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Celebrating the Turf World Championships

The curtain came down on a great day of horseracing at Sha Tin on Sunday as over 65 000 fans converged on the world-class arena to celebrate the Turf World Championships.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges has praised the 2023 LONGINES Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) as “one of the best days of racing” Hong Kong has hosted.

The Hong Kong Jockey celebrate a magic end to a day of fireworks and thrills on and off the track (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

“In my humble opinion, I’ve been here now for 25 years and this was one of the best – if not the best – days of racing we have had in Hong Kong,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

“If I look at the situation after Covid, after we had last year already a good meeting, but today Hong Kong racing has established (itself) again on the global stage and has shown what sporting entertainment means.

A crowd of 65,252 – the largest LONGINES HKIR attendance since 2019 – flocked to Sha Tin.

On a day when Hong Kong racing shone on the international stage as local champions – Lucky Sweynesse (LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint), Golden Sixty (LONGINES Hong Kong Mile) and Romantic Warrior (LONGINES Hong Kong Cup) – won three of the four elite Group 1 contests, France also extended its successful association with the “Turf World Championships” with Junko (LONGINES Hong Kong Vase).

“When you look at the sporting performances, it was a fantastic win by Junko and Andre Fabre, who is one of the greatest supporters of Hong Kong racing,” Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges thanked international and local owners, trainers and jockeys, as well as Club staff for the staging of an unforgettable meeting.

“I would like especially to thank the connections, because this would not be possible without the tremendous support from horsemen around the world,” Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

Addressing Hong Kong’s effort to win three of the four LONGINES HKIR Group 1s for the second year in a row, Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “We had a sprint race where we had the best sprinter in the world (Lucky Sweynesse) establish himself after there was doubt. And I have witnessed this year two absolutely amazing performances, if you look at Equinox in Dubai and I had the pleasure to see Equinox in Japan.

“I’m not saying the performance of Golden Sixty is the same as Equinox, but in the Mile I have very seldom seen the performance of a horse, an eight-year-old first time up drawn gate 14, and it was an absolutely brilliant ride by Vincent (Ho).

“There was a lot of doubt how it would play out and it was a tactical masterpiece how the horse was positioned. When the horse accelerated, when you could hear the crowd cheering for the local champion, this was something which, in my view, was unforgettable.

“Then probably the most exciting 2000m race (Hong Kong Cup) I have seen this year. Similar to the Cox Plate, where you had really top horses fighting it out at the top of the straight. That a Hong Kong horse (Romantic Warrior) won is good, but when you look at the form of Luxembourg, again sporting wise it was a fantastic performance.”

Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director, Racing Mr Andrew Harding described Sunday’s race meeting as “truly remarkable” with Ho’s LONGINES International Jockeys’ Championship as one of several highlights of the week.

Proud leader! Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges (Pic – Candiese Lenferna)

“The week indeed has had so many remarkable threads. I take Vincent’s victory on Wednesday night (6 December) in a field of literally superstars and it speaks to the depth of the Club’s commitment to developing local talent,” he said.

“We were proud of what we were able to achieve during the dark days of the pandemic. Today showed that in December Hong Kong is the place to be and that the eyes of the racing world turn to us.

“I’m just so proud that we were able to show the world that Hong Kong is Asia’s world city and we were able to give our visitors a fantastic week.”

Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges thanked Club staff in staging the flagship meeting and for allowing Hong Kong to shine.

“We have a team dedicated to excellence and that makes the Jockey Club proud. It has shown today and the whole week that Hong Kong is back on the global stage and that Hong Kong racing is one of the global racing products which I feel as a city we should be proud of.”

Turnover on the meeting was HK$1.697 billion, which included a commingling turnover record for a 10-race Hong Kong meeting of HK$429.6 million.

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