Hong Kong racing will offer record prize money of HK$1.3 billion ($246.5m) for the 2019/20 season. Lucrative increases to FWD Champions Day's three Group One races and the BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) feature among the Hong Kong Jockey Club's upward adjustments revealed yesterday.
The FWD Champions Day fixture has proven to be a huge success in two editions so far. In keeping with its world class status, the Gr.1 FWD Queen Elizabeth II Cup (2000m) has received a HK$1m boost and will be worth HK$25m ($4.74m) in 2020; the Gr.1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m) is up HK$2m to HK$20m, and the Gr.1 Chairman's Sprint Prize (1200m) is worth HK$18m, an increase of HK$2m.
The historic BMW Hong Kong Derby is Hong Kong's most important domestic contest and will be worth HK$20m, an HK$2m increase on the 2019 renewal.
Total prizemoney for the 2019/20 season's 88 meetings at Sha Tin and Happy Valley is up by 6.5 per cent on the 2018/19 season. The purse increases span all handicap races from Class 1 down to Class 5.
"Our owners invest heavily to bring high-quality horses to Hong Kong, which underpins our world-class racing," said Andrew Harding, executive director, racing, at the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
"It is important that they are rewarded for their investments and this is reflected in the rises across our five classes of handicap races and the Derby. The BMW Hong Kong Derby is the race every Hong Kong owner wants to win."
New Zealand-bred gallopers have enjoyed another fine season in Hong Kong, winning more black-type races (13) than any other nation. New Zealand-bred horses have won 25.8 per cent of races in Hong Kong this season from a supply of 23.5 per cent of runners.
Additionally, six of the past 10 Hong Kong Derby winners are New Zealand-bred, including this year's winner Furore.
Hiflyer goes on extended break
Trainer Peter Lock has resisted the temptation to bring talented galloper Hiflyer back into work.
The Group One performer is currently spelling after suffering a back injury.
"He had a pulled muscle over his back and he is right now," Lock said.
"The vets had a look at him and said he could probably come into work now but I am going to give him a good break and let him strengthen.
"He has done extremely well on his break and they have done a great job at the place where he is."
Hiflyer had six starts during the 2018-19 season with his best performance being a runner-up finish behind Melody Belle in the Gr.1 Tarzino Trophy (1400m).
The six-year-old son of Tavistock races in the colours of breeders and co-owners Sir Patrick and Lady Justine Hogan and has won nine of his 29 starts, with a further 10 placings.
Guineas target for million-dollar colt
Million-dollar Karaka yearling, Conqueror, broke maiden ranks in impressive fashion when demolishing his rivals by seven lengths over 1400m at Pakenham yesterday for the Lindsay Park team of David and Ben Hayes and Tom Dabernig.
The two-year-old colt by Fastnet Rock out of Group One winning Savabeel mare Diademe sports the navy blue colours of Coolmore who race the colt in conjunction with some high-profile partners.
Sent out a $1.45 favourite, Conqueror comfortably found the lead in the hands of Luke Nolan and put a break on his rivals in the straight.
"He ran to his odds," Ben Hayes said.
"It was a very, very impressive win. He did everything right. He extended right through the line and we really think he is a horse that will be competing in the big races in the spring. It was really exciting to see him do that."
Hayes said the Gr.1 Caulfield Guineas (1600m) was on the colt's radar, with Conqueror now boasting a win and a runner-up placing from three starts at two.
"I think there is a race (3YO BM 70, 1400m) at Flemington on August 10 that he will head to and from there we will build," Hayes said.
"He can be a bit lazy and it has been hard to get a real guide, but you love it when they come to the races and race like that. My Dad's best horse was lazy, Better Loosen Up.
"He has given us glimpses of his brilliance at home and we saw it today."
Conqueror was sold by Gordon Cunningham's Curraghmore at the Book 1 session of the 2018 New Zealand Bloodstock National Yearling Sale for $1 million.
Bloodstock agent Mark Pilkington, who had previously tasted success with Fastnet Rock's dual hemisphere Group One winner Merchant Navy, signed the docket in conjunction with Lindsay Park Racing.
Phelan tip for Delacroix
The connections of North Canterbury jumper Delacroix have heeded the advice of Cambridge jumps jockey Shaun Phelan in his build-up to a couple of major missions this winter.
Delacroix won over 4280m in a restricted open steeplechase at Timaru in June by 11 and a half lengths when reunited with Phelan and purposely bypassed a trip south later in the month for a similar event at Wingatui.
"Shaun said don't go down to Dunedin as it would be too heavy for him so we've waited for Timaru again," co-trainer Karen Parsons said. "He'll run there on Friday then be aimed for the Grand National and maybe the Great Northern."
The Grand National Steeplechase (5600m) is at Riccarton on August 10, a month before the Great Northern Steeplechase (6400m) at Ellerslie.
A winner of six races on the flat and five over hurdles, Delacroix has shown much promise over country with three wins, three seconds and two thirds from 10 starts.
After being raced by Kevin Hickman, Delacroix now races in the interests of co-trainer John Parsons and former top jumps jockey Tommy Hazlett whose wins included the 2006 Grand National Steeplechase on Bogeyman.
- NZ Racing Desk