Horse Racing
Hong Kong’s prize money hits record levels with 11.5 percent boost, focus on middle-distance talent

20/04/2022 14:34

Hong Kong racing will offer record total prize money and incentives of HK$1.62 billion across the 2022/23 season with the overall purse bolstered by a record single-season increase of 11.5% (HK$167.2 million) and featuring an exciting range of innovations, including stunning increases in prize money across distance races and a new bonus system. 

In announcing this major investment, the Club has made a clear statement that it is looking beyond the current challenges created by the pandemic and reaffirming its long-term strategy of providing the right incentives structure to reward owners who invest in the high-quality horses that are the foundation of Hong Kong’s world-class racing.

Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer of The Hong Kong Jockey Club talked through the challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic: “The last two and a half years have been among the most challenging times in Hong Kong racing history. Despite this, we have been able to continue racing and we would like to thank everybody in the industry for working together to make it happen.

“With various kinds of COVID-19 measures including overseas travel restrictions, it has made it difficult for Owners and Trainers to go to the sales to source horses for two racing seasons. Furthermore, we are facing an increased competition to source good horses due to prize money increases around the world, especially Australia which is the main source of our bloodstock. The popularity of overseas racing syndicates, which are less willing to sell horses as well as highly competitive power from gulf countries also makes the issue harder.

“We recognise all of these factors, but firmly believe that the impacts of this will be short-term. We have seen Hong Kong emerge as one of the world leaders in racing both in terms of its quality and its international recognition. We have also successfully pioneered large scale international commingling, and now the World Pool. We firmly believe that Hong Kong racing will have room for further growth and we are fully committed to making the necessary investments to achieve this, both through major plans for significant capital investments in our racecourses and training facilities in Sha Tin and Conghua, as well as in a prize money pool that rewards owners who invest in high-quality horses.

“We have had a complete review of our prize money and incentive structure and have decided to make continuous investment into the future, which has resulted in significant increases in prize money and additional incentives in the bonus system with special focus on certain distance categories,” Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

The LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) remains Hong Kong’s richest race.
The LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) remains Hong Kong’s richest race.

Hong Kong will continue to be the home of the world’s richest Group 1 turf races over 1200m, 1600m and 2000m when the collective prize money of the four G1 features at the LONGINES HKIR rises to a new high of HK$110 million, a boost of HK$10 million on 2021.

The G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Cup (2000m) – won by Loves Only You in 2021 – will carry HK$34 million in prizemoney, an increase of 13.3%, while the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Mile (1600m) grows by 15.4% increase to HK$30 million and the G1 LONGINES Hong Kong Vase (2400m) advances 10% to HK$22 million, which is the sixth richest G1 2400m in the world.

Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges noted the importance of Hong Kong’s elite races on the big stage, especially the flagship LONGINES Hong Kong International Races. 

“The LONGINES Hong Kong International Races (HKIR) have been widely recognised as the Turf World Championships and the HK$110 million total prize money also highlights the Club’s commitment to attracting and rewarding the world’s best,” he said. 

Prize Money Increases (Pattern Races)

Races 2021/22 (HK$) 2022/23 (HK$) Increase (HK$) % Increase
HK Mile (G1) 26,000,000 30,000,000 4,000,000 15.4%
HK Cup (G1) 30,000,000 34,000,000 4,000,000 13.3%
HK Vase (G1) 20,000,000 22,000,000 2,000,000 10%
G2 (All) 4,750,000 5,000,000 250,000 5.3%
G3 (All) 3,700,000 3,900,000 200,000 5.4%

The G1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup (1400m) remains the most endowed seven-furlong contest in the world at HK$12 million, while the upcoming HK$20 million G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) on FWD Champions Day is the world’s second most-valuable 1200m Group 1 on turf behind the HK$24 million LONGINES Hong Kong Sprint (1200m).

The Club has also lifted Group 2 and 3 contests to HK$5 million and HK$3.9 million – increases of 5.3% and 5.4%, respectively.

Prize Money Increase (across all classes)

Races 2021/22 (HK$) 2022/23 (HK$) Increase (HK$) % Increase
Class 1* 3,150,000 3,465,000 315,000 10%
Class 2* 2,400,000 2,640,000 240,000 10%
Class 3* 1,570,000 1,725,000 155,000 9.87%
Class 4 1,040,000 1,080,000 40,000 3.85%
Class 5 780,000 810,000 30,000 3.85%
Griffin 850,000 880,000 30,000 3.5%

*For race distances 1000m-1400m

Hong Kong’s prize money pool has risen by nearly 90% over the past 10 years and every grade of racing from Class 1 to Griffin will carry extra prize money across 88 fixtures next season.

To address the situation in horse population structure, especially the downward trend of number of higher-class horses and the middle-distance runners, the Club has decided to introduce new prize money and bonus structures.

Under the innovative two-tiered structure, Class 1 contests ranging from 1000m to 1400m will rise to HK$3.465 million – a 10% increase, while the prize money in Class 1 races between 1600m-2400m will rise by 20.6% from HK$3.15 million up to HK$3.8 million. 

Prize Money Increases (Class 1 to Class 3 over race distances 1600m-2400m)

Races 2021/22 (HK$) 2022/23 (HK$) Increase (HK$) % Increase
Class 1 3,150,000 3,800,000 650,000 20.6%
Class 2 2,400,000 2,900,000 500,000 20.8%
Class 3 1,570,000 1,900,000 330,000 21%

Class 2 contests have been similarly enhanced. Prize money for races distances between 1000m and 1400m increase 10% to HK$2.64 million, while races ranging from 1600m to 2400m will shoot up 20.8% – a further HK$500,000 to HK$2.9 million. 

Class 3 races will also feature a similar boost, with contests between 1000m to 1400m bolstered by 9.87% to HK$1.725 million with an additional HK$155,000, while races between 1600m and 2400m rise 21% with an added HK$330,000 on top. 

Both Class 4 and 5 races will each carry rises of 3.85%, swelling to HK$1.08 million and HK$810,000 respectively, while Griffins grow by HK$30,000 to HK$880,000.

Enhancing the value proposition for Owners, the Club has substantially bolstered incentives with the introduction of a HK$1 million bonus for PPs (Privately Purchased Horses) for their first win in Class 3. 

In addition to the HK$1 million bonus for PPs who win for the first time in Class 3, there is also a HK$1 million top-up when the horse then collects its first win in Class 2 or above when rated 80 higher in the same period.   
Meanwhile, PPGs (Privately Purchased Griffins) will continue to earn a HK$1 million bonus for a first win in Class 2 or above when rated 80 or higher before reaching the age of five.

Romantic Warrior wins the 2022 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).
Romantic Warrior wins the 2022 BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m).

Off the back of Romantic Warrior’s 2022 HK$24 million BMW Hong Kong Derby (2000m) success – ISGs (International Sale Griffins) or horses bought out of the Hong Kong International Sale – will continue to earn a HK$600,000 bonus if successful in a Class 3 contest when rated 60 or higher before the end of their first full season, while in addition if they are successful again in Class 2 or higher when rated 80 or above, they will earn an added HK$400,000 before reaching five years of age. 

To balance the chances of earning the special bonus for Southern Hemisphere and Northern Hemisphere imports, there will be respective treatment in the period of eligibility in earning these bonuses. Horses from the Southern Hemisphere are eligible for PP and PPG Bonus Schemes until the end of their four-year-old year, while horses from the Northern Hemisphere are eligible for the PP and PPG Bonus Schemes until the end of the Hong Kong racing season, no later than 16 July, of their five-year-old year for a win in Class 2 or above when rated 80 or higher.

Hong Kong Racehorse Owners Association President Mr Matthew Lam welcomes the exciting incentives: “Hong Kong and the rest of the world have been facing very tough challenges over the last two years due to the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic, but the Hong Kong Jockey Club has been doing a great job to keep racing going with very stringent health and safety restrictions. It is exciting to see the further increase in prize money in nearly all races, which will provide good incentives to Owners to continue importing high-class horses to support Hong Kong’s world-class racing.” 

Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “The Club is committed to make the strategic investments to prize money and the incentives system, as well as to our racecourses and training facilities, to provide an attractive value proposition for Owners to invest in high-quality horses.

“It is also a reflection of our confidence in Hong Kong racing and will help the customer experience and protect the upward trend in betting duty, which has increased over the past 10 years to a record HK$23.8 billion last season.”