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The world’s richest ever race was staged at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, the inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational. A race over one and one eighth miles on the dirt at Florida’s premier racetrack. An idea thought up by Gulfstream Park owners, The Stronach Group, the Pegasus World Cup Invitational was the first race of its kind, offering 12 owners the chance to buy a place in the starting stalls at US $1million, which they then were able to sell, share or lease a runner for.
The line-up for the $12million contest looked like this:
1) Arrogate (USA)
2) Prayer for Relief (USA)
3) Neolithic (USA)
4) Noble Bird (USA)
5) War Story (USA)
6) War Envoy (USA)
7) Shaman Ghost (CAN)
8) Semper Fortis (USA)
9) Keen Ice (USA)
10) Breaking Lucky (CAN)
11) Eragon (ARG)
12) California Chrome (USA)
In the build-up to the race, the discussion centred on the rematch of Arrogate vs California Chrome, following a gripping finish contested between the two at Santa Anita Park for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup, which was won by the Juddmonte Farms owned Arrogate. Chrome held favouritism for the Pegasus World Cup Invitational until the gate draw, when Arrogate’s favourable inside draw pushed him to the top of the market. It appeared, through the odds at least, that the 10 other runners were running for minor honours.
The race started as expected with the front running Noble Bird shooting straight out into a lead, followed in close pursuit by California Chrome on the wide outside, Arrogate on the rail, and Neolithic between horses to hold second on the first turn. Positions were held up the back straight, with a few lengths between this leading pack, plus War Story, and the rest of the field. It wasn’t until the turn for home that the race began to unfold, Arrogate and Neolithic pulling ahead of Noble Bird, however Chrome was unable to follow. The race owners’ entry, Shaman Ghost, was the only horse in the field able to bridge the gap on the turn to the leading quintet. It was evident by the time they had straightened up for home that Chrome was not going to be first past the post, and even getting a place was looking unlikely. Arrogate put in the performance of a true champion to win eventually by nearly five lengths, from the strong finishing Shaman Ghost, who was over three lengths clear of Neolithic, holding on to third from another strong finisher and high class horse, Keen Ice. Chrome was eased down for the final couple of furlongs, finishing ninth.
Dirt horses topped the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings in 2016, with Juddmonte owned Arrogate leading the now six-year-old California Chrome by a rating of 134 to Chrome’s 133. It is only fitting therefore that all eyes are on the Pegasus World Cup Invitational as the first great international contest of 2017, where the two have been confirmed to run in the race at Gulfstream Park, on the dirt over 1 and 1/8 miles.
Twelve runners will line-up for their chance at the world record $12 million USD purse. To date, eight horses have been confirmed for this inaugural event, which offers a brand new format to the sport of kings. Arrogate and California Chrome look set to oppose a number of horses they have previous victories against, however the Argentinian raider Eragon will not be looking to be joining these ranks. A multiple Group 1 winner in his native Argentina, Eragon is for the first time trying his hand beyond the two courses that he’s made a name for himself at back home.
Whilst the confirmed entry list grows for the race on January 28th, it’s the 13th jockey that’s stealing all the headlines for the riders. UFC Champion and global sports star Conor McGregor has launched his campaign to become the “pound for pound number one jockey on the planet” .
With California Chrome expected to retire following the Pegasus World Cup, the door is wide open for Arrogate to take victory in the biggest dirt races of the year, including the Dubai World Cup at Meydan in March, before the turf stars of the Northern Hemisphere make their seasonal reappearances, and then the Breeders’ Cup Classic in early November.
After a most impressive 1-2-3 in the 2016 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Aidan O’Brien is sure to be firing on all cylinders again through 2017. The retirement of fantastic servant Found will not hinder his quest for success, perhaps spearheaded by his star colt, Churchill. The Guineas in May and the Derby in June could provide a double last won by the magnificent Camelot. Overseas though, O’Brien’s globetrotting star Highland Reel will be looking to secure victory in some of the world’s most prestigious races. Similar performances to the mesmerising display in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Turf should see him go close across the world, including another potential tilt at the end of season Hong Kong Vase in December, part of the star studded Hong Kong International Races.
A Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe victory may be a bridge too far for the now five-year-old with the 2016 emergence of two very high quality French horses. Dual Champion Stakes winner Almanzor could be an unstoppable force through 2017, and if a schedule without the Arc is planned, then last year’s Prix De Diane winner, and still unbeaten filly, La Cressonniere will look to oblige for the home support at Chantilly.
Down under it’s one horse capturing all the plaudits, Australian Horse of the Year, Winx. The Chris Waller trained Winx, could well be in line to secure a third consecutive Cox Plate. Plans to bring the mare to Europe have been extinguished in order to allow her to equal the record of Cox Plate victories with the great Australian horse, Kingston Town. She is an ante post 2/1 for the victory, and this market is a stark contrast to the Melbourne Cup market, where the joint favourites are 2016 winner Almandin and third place Hartnell, at 20/1.
It’s sure to be another thrilling year of international action on the turf courses and dirt tracks around the world. We hope all of our clients enjoy the year of racing ahead.
HBA offers international rights and distribution services to some of the world’s most prestigious races, including the upcoming Pegasus World Cup Invitational on Saturday 28th January. Contact us for more information by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44(0) 1666 822769.
Yesterday marked the 19th year of the Longines International Jockeys Championships. An incredible four race championship spectacle in the heart of Hong Kong, on the turf of Happy Valley Racecourse. Staged under the floodlights with a stunning Hong Kong backdrop, 12 of the best jockeys from across the globe meet for this unique occasion every year, and battle it out to be crowned the ‘King of the Valley’.
The action begins days before the jockeys meet on the track, with the jockeys’ allocation. Officials and competitors gather for the allocation ceremony, where the 12 jockeys are randomly drawn aboard the 12 horses for the four legs of the International Jockeys Championships. The star studded list of jockeys, including Ryan Moore, Pat Smullen and Mikael Barzalona, watch on as their chances of Championship victory unveil before them. A favourable set of rides determined favouritism lay joint between top Australian jockey, Hugh Bowman, and the globetrotting, two-time winner, Ryan Moore.
The Championships works on the following points system; 12 points for race victory, 6 points for second place, 4 points for third place. The overall winner taking home a HK$500,000 cheque, a set of Longines prizes, and most importantly, the coveted title of ‘International Jockeys Champion’.
Joint favourite Hugh Bowman got off to a flyer, easily winning the first race and picking up 12 points in the process, followed home by US representative Florent Geroux and the first time IJC participant, Pat Smullen. Ryan Moore fought back in the second leg with a victory, and Hugh Bowman out of sight. Leg three went the way of Italian rider Mirco Demuro, Hugh Bowman snatching second and Ryan Moore dead heating back in third, sharing the four points with Florent Geroux.
All set up for a final race showdown between the three race winners, Mirco and Hugh were unable to put their mount in a position to score any points, Ryan however rallied his mount up the inside to force a photo finish decision in the places. This, however, was not enough. After Ryan’s mount was declared fourth, Hugh Bowman was awarded the Championships with a total score of 18, four more than Ryan Moore and six more than joint third place finishers, Mirco Demuro, and leg four winner Keita Tosaki.
The IJC is just the beginning of an international racing spectacle in Hong Kong. As the world’s best horses arrive in Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Jockey Club stage the barrier draw today, the Gala dinner tomorrow, trackside breakfast with the stars on Saturday, all building to the Hong Kong International Races on Sunday 11th December.
Interestingly, tomorrow’s Gala dinner will be opened by a poetry performance from none other than HBA Founder and Managing Director, Henry Birtles. Keep an eye out for the online publishing of Henry’s new poem, celebrating Hong Kong racing and the stars of the international scene.
Four races make up the Longines Hong Kong International Races, staged at Hong Kong’s other racecourse, Sha Tin, these races are; Vase, Sprint, Mile and Cup. International raiders include impressive Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Highland Reel, highly rated Japanese stars A Shin Hikari & Maurice, two time Goodwood Cup winner Big Orange, and many more.
HBA offers international rights and distribution services to some of the world’s most prestigious races, including the Longines Hong Kong International Races, and the upcoming inaugural Pegasus World Cup Invitational. Contact us for more details by email at email@example.com or call +44(0) 1666 822769.