Racing gallops to a record finish

Top News | Phoebe Ng Jul 17, 2017
Punters ignored squally thunderstorms to say farewell to the 2016/17 racing season at Sha Tin yesterday, plunging a record HK$1.86 billion into the tote.

Total turnover for the season also hit a new high at HK$117 billion - a 10.7 percent increase on the previous season - with the government again a big winner with betting duty in excess of HK$12 billion and total betting revenue at over HK$15 billion.

There were 88 meetings at Sha Tin and Happy Valley over the season, with the total attendance 2.17 million compared to the previous term's 2.04 million.

Yesterday's highlight performance on an 11-race card saw Time Warp, trained by legend Tony Cruz, take rivals on a merry chase for the third time in as many races with a powerful front- running display in the Sha Tin Mile Trophy Handicap (1600 meters).

Derek Leung Ka-chun was named the most successful homegrown rider and took the Tony Cruz Award.

He rode 25 winners during the campaign despite being twice sidelined by injury.

Still, Joao Moreira was not only champion jockey but was also voted the most popular.

Fans also voted Australian mare Winx the most admired overseas horse while John Size-trained D B Pin took the most-improved horse award after rising 55 points in ratings.

Among 37,000 punters on course yesterday was Taiwan tourist Chen, who with another Taiwanese and guided by a local friend took in the grand finale at Sha Tin during their first Hong Kong visit. "The atmosphere was unique," Chen said. "It certainly did not disappoint."

It was also the first time third-year veterinary medicine student Leung set foot on a racecourse.

And despite losing money - she budgeted several hundred dollars for bets - Leung was "very happy" after arriving at the track at 11 am.

Leung also concluded that size may not matter much. "Perhaps small horses do better over short trips," she said.

"But the main thing is to look at their muscles."

The next season opens in September.

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