John Size collected his 11th champion trainer title and Zac Purton his third champion jockey trophy at the end of an action-packed 11-race card today (Sunday, 14 July) at Sha Tin, which capped a captivating 2018/19 Hong Kong racing season.
An enthusiastic crowd of 51,000 people turned out to see Size post a double to repel John Moore’s challenge for championship honours. That turnout was the highest since 2012 and took the season’s total attendance to 2.21 million, a 3.3% increase on the 2017/18 season.
Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “John Size won a fantastic battle for the trainers’ championship with John Moore and that definitely enticed a lot of customers to come racing – we could not have planned it better.
The day’s turnover of HK$1.966 billion was a record for the day and pushed the season’s total turnover to a new high of HK$124.8 billion, albeit by only 0.4%.
The CEO said: “Today we had record turnover for a season finale. It has been a challenging year with a lot of ups and downs, so to end the season with an increase in turnover is one of several positives we will take into next season.
“The major growth driver was definitely commingling, which showed fantastic results and increased by 13 per cent. But what counts is the gross margin, and, in the circumstances of a challenging environment we are very satisfied that we have seen that increase by one per cent to HK$5.54 billion.”
Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges applauded the many sporting achievements in a season that produced world class stars in Beauty Generation and Exultant, and also saw Zac Purton achieve records and milestones, including a season’s best 168 wins, a total just two short of Joao Moreira’s record.
He said: “We have to salute our champions. This was a fantastic year for the quality of Hong Kong racing. We have only 0.7 per cent of the world’s racehorse population, but when you see the quality of races and horses we have here it is something Hong Kong can be extremely proud of.
“It takes a lot of effort in a very competitive environment to achieve these results. We have no breeding industry, so we depend on our owners to bring the right horses in to help continue these amazing results year on year. Once again, to see 25 Hong Kong horses in the World’s Best Racehorse Rankings and eleven of Hong Kong’s twelve Group 1 contests in the World’s Top 100 Group 1 Races is extremely satisfying.
“Zac Purton’s performance across the whole season was incredible. He broke his own personal record with 168 winners, won seven Group 1 races along the way, and also broke Joao Moreira’s single season prize money record. He is an exceptional champion jockey.”