Hong Kong racing will offer record prize money of £143.5million (HK$1.4 billion) for the 2020-21 season, with the Group One Longines Hong Kong Sprint and BMW Hong Kong Derby featuring prominently among the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s upward adjustments.
The six-furlong Hong Kong Sprint will carry a value of £2.2m, an increase of £205,000, while five other Group One races – the Centenary Sprint Cup, Stewards’ Cup, Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, Hong Kong Gold Cup and Champions & Chater Cup – will receive the same boost, taking their value to £1.2m.
The Hong Kong Derby is Hong Kong’s most important domestic contest and will be worth £2.4m, a £400,000 increase on the 2020 renewal. The 10-furlong contest regains its position as the second-richest Derby in the world, behind only Japan’s equivalent and ahead of the Kentucky Derby, the UAE Derby and the Derby at Epsom.
The Hong Kong Derby is the final leg in the three-race Four-Year-Old Classic Series and the Club has also taken the decision to up prize money for first two legs – the Hong Kong Classic Mile and Hong Kong Classic Cup – by £200,000, making each race worth £1.2m.
All Group Two purses will increase by 5.9% to £460,000 with and Group Three races rising by 7.7% to £359,000.
Total prize money for the 2020-21 season’s 88 meetings at Sha Tin and Happy Valley is up by approximately 4.9% on the 2019-20 season with increases spanning all handicap races from class one down to class five.
Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association president Chew Fook Aun said: “At a time when prize money levels are being cut worldwide, the prize money increases announced today by the Hong Kong Jockey Club are very welcome news, and a testament to the strength, resilience and buoyancy of Hong Kong racing, even in these very difficult times.”
Andrew Harding, executive director, racing, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club said: “Hong Kong racing is among the best in the world and part of what makes it such a competitive sports environment is the excellent prize money available from class five right up to Group One.
“Despite the issues associated with the Covid-19 pandemic and the uncertainty in world economies, we will continue our successful strategy of recent years to increase purse levels as necessary in order to reward and encourage our owners and to ensure Hong Kong’s elite races are attractive to overseas competitors.
“This approach has been a core element in Hong Kong being able to maintain its position as a world leader in providing quality racing and has enabled us to achieve between 20 and 26 horses in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings for each of the past seven years.
“For next season, the Club has increased prize money to a record overall sum, including a significant injection across all class one to class five handicap races and Group Two and Group Three contests.
“We believe this will help to enhance competition and assist our owners in their attempts to purchase and import the best possible horses in a difficult economic climate.”
The HKJC has also introduced a new bonus for the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship held at Happy Valley in December.
To encourage a higher quality of horses in the four IJC races, the new bonus scheme will offer prizes of £20,500 to the most successful trainer in the contest’s four races, £10,250 to the runner-up and £5,125 to the third-placed trainer, with points awarded in a similar fashion to the jockeys’ competition.