Hong Kong Diary

We’ve got all the key numbers ahead of the new season which gets underway at Sha Tin on Sunday morning, live on Sky Sports Racing.

  • Wednesday 02 September
  • Blog
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All things seem possible at the start of a new season - just ask anyone connected with Hong Kong racing.

You would have got any price about one story knocking public order issues off the front pages this time last year, but coronavirus did just that and it took Herculean efforts and the creation of a heavily protected racing bubble to ensure the season reached its mid-July conclusion.

Fresh from a seven-week break to refresh horses and humans, global racing's most cosmopolitan international model returns at Sha Tin on Sunday - live on Sky Sports Racing - and the key numbers are as follows...

1.5 - million sterling is the average prize money for each meeting, ranging from a minimum of £70,000 for Class 5 contests to well over £2m for the stars who bid to shine in races like the Longines Hong Kong Cup and BMW Hong Kong Derby. The HKJC have moved to buck the global trend of slashed purses and it's a sobering thought that the four G1 contests run on HKIR day (December 13th) are worth over £9m - well over double the value of every race at this year's Royal Ascot added together.

2 - HK races just twice a week during an 88-meeting season from September to July. The entire season consists of just over 800 races with a strong emphasis on quality over quantity and this season features the usual quota of smart transfer recruits, including French Guineas and Derby runner-up The Summit, Aidan O'Brien's Hampton Court Stakes winner Russian Emperor and Marco Botti's Malotru, who signed off his Euro career by finishing a fine third in Pinatubo's Prix Jean Prat at Deauville last month.

Zac Purton

4 - is the number of times all key HKJC personnel - including champion jockey Zac Purton, fellow riders, trainers, stewards and vets - are being tested each week for coronavirus. Owners with starters plus one guest are the only non officials allowed to go racing as last season's Behind Closed Doors model continues and betting shops remain closed on racedays even though the number of infections is heading firmly in the right direction after a summer spike.

David Hayes

5 - is the number of runners David Hayes saddles on the first day of his second stint as a HK handler. The charismatic Aussie, who replaces local legend John Moore, was champion trainer twice during his previous HK stint and kicks off with a strong blend of HK transfers and potentially useful young Aussie imports. Hayes scored on his first day at Sha Tin back in 1995 and has a couple of solid chances again on Sunday, including with progressive sprinter Metro Warrior in the 9.05.

8 - is the number of runners eleven-times champion John Size will send out on a much busier opening day than usual for him. Size is a notoriously slow starter - with just five winners during the month of September in the last four seasons - but travel restrictions have kept him at home and attending to business during the summer. The eleven-times champion hasn't had a winner on opening day since 2011 but it looks like he plans to hit the ground running this term and the fact that flashy chestnut Beauty Applause has had strong two summer trials is notable ahead of his reappearance in Sunday's finale at 10.45.

Beauty Generation

8 - is also an age when champs usually find their crowns slipping and Hayes is hoping he can find a fountain of youth having inherited Beauty Generation from the departed John Moore. The master miler added two Group 1s to his dance card last term but isn't the dominant force of old and HK's new golden boy represents a potent threat if he bids to win the Celebration Cup for a fourth year running.....

60 - or Golden Sixty, to be more accurate. Francis Lui's Derby winner has the Celebration Cup firmly in his sights and the youngster - who was flawless in seven starts under Vincent Ho last season - will receive a hefty 18lb from Beauty Generation if they clash in the G3 handicap on September 28th.

Hong Kong Diary
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