At a time when prize money is being slashed around the globe as a result of Covid-19 pressures, the Jockey Club has announced a raft of increases for next season headlined by a HK$4 million boost to the Hong Kong Derby purse.
While the Australian autumn carnival saw significant decreases and prize money for this week’s Royal Ascot carnival has been slashed by more than half, the Jockey Club has not wavered this season as turnover has gradually recovered from an initial dip following Covid-19 restrictions.
Owners will be offered even more incentive in 2020-21, with the overall prize pool increased by 4.9 per cent to HK$1.4 billion.
“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,” said Jockey Club executive director of racing Andrew Harding.
“This approach has been a core element in Hong Kong being able to maintain its position as a world leader in providing quality horse racing.
“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 prize pool for March’s prestigious Derby will increase from HK$20 million to HK$24 million, while the other two legs of the Classic Series – the Mile and the Cup – jump from HK$10 million to HK$12 million.
“[The Derby] regains its position as the second-richest Derby in the world [behind Japan]. The investment from our owners in high quality young stock for our four-year-old Classic Series each year brings a vital replenishment of our elite cohort of runners, which in turn maintains the very high standard of racing here in Hong Kong,” Harding said.
The Hong Kong Sprint on international day will see a further HK$2 million injected, taking it to HK$22 million, while the Centenary Sprint Cup, the Stewards’ Cup, the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, the Gold Cup and the Champions & Chater Cup all increase from HK$10 million to HK$12 million.
The purse for all Group Two (HK$4.25 million to HK$4.5 million) and Group Three (HK$3.25 to HK$3.5 million) contests will be raised, while all races from Class Five to Class One also increase – Class One the most with a HK$200,000 bump to HK$3 million.
The Jockey Club has also introduced a new bonus for the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship at Happy Valley during international week in December.
To encourage a higher quality of horses across the four races, the most successful trainer will receive HK$200,000, while HK$100,000 will go to the runner-up and HK$50,000 to the third placegetter, with points awarded in a similar fashion to the jockeys’ competition.