07/10/2017 1:51PM

Higher purses next season for Hong Kong Group 1 races


Purses for four Hong Kong Group 1 races will be higher for the 2017-18 season, the Hong Kong Jockey Club announced Monday.

The Queen Elizabeth II Cup at 1 1/4 miles on turf next spring will be worth $3.07 million, an increase of approximately $500,000 from this year. The Champions Mile, run in early May, will be worth $2.3 million, a gain of about $255,000.

The Chairman’s Sprint Prize at six furlongs on turf has been increased by about $255,000 to $2.04 million at Monday’s exchange rates. The race was run in early May this year.

In December, the Hong Kong Vase at 1 1/2 miles on turf, a race that annually draws an international field, will be worth $2.3 million, a gain of just less than $200,000.

Overall, Hong Kong will have purses of approximately $148.4 million for the 88-day season at Happy Valley and Sha Tin Racecourses. The 2017-18 season begins on Sept. 3. Purses for overnight handicap races – a staple on the Hong Kong circuit – will rise 4.8 percent to 6.3 percent, depending on the class level.

The current season has two more racing days: Wednesday at Happy Valley and Sunday’s final day at Sha Tin.

The eight-race card at Happy Valley is led by the $223,991 Sweet Orange Handicap at six furlongs on turf, the final race on the program.

Super Turbo, who won a race at a similar level May 17, will carry 124 pounds, nine less than topweight Racing Supernova, who is winless in six starts since Dec. 11.

Leading trainer John Size and leading rider Joao Moreira team with House of Fun, the winner of a five-furlong handicap at Sha Tin on May 7 who was second in a six-furlong handicap at Sha Tin on June 18. House of Fun will carry 129 pounds.

The Sweet Orange Handicap will be the second start in Hong Kong for Southern Legend, who disappointed in his debut on the circuit when he finished 13th by 7 1/4 lengths in a six-furlong handicap on turf at as the favorite at Sha Tin on May 28. Southern Legend broke from the rail in that race, but starts from the outside in this field of 12.

Southern Legend, who will carry 118 pounds, won four consecutive races in Australia from February to August 2016 at distances from five to six furlongs on turf. Southern Legend was a listed stakes winner in that span and was later third in the Group 2 Theo Marks Stakes at 6 1/2 furlongs at Rosehill Gardens last October.