It is all done and dusted for the Hong Kong season with a thrilling last-race decider for the trainers’ championship going to Dennis Yip, Douglas Whyte posting a 13th successive jockeys’ championship and there was record betting turnover.
After the most exciting championship in many years, Yip was the first Chinese trainer to win the title for 12 years and his victory was well received by local fans.
Yip was headed by Tony Cruz during the last meeting but saddled up the hot favourite for the final race and Flying Elite made no mistake to put Yip back on top. Hong Kong born and raised, Yip was a moderate jockey in the 1980s and 90s before switching course and had been Kan’s assistant trainer when he won the title in 2001.
Douglas Whyte finished with 101 wins, his 13 straight premierships equals a world record set in Britain in the 1880s, and he continued his iron grip on the public vote for Most Popular Jockey.
Military Attack was named Horse Of The Year for his three Group One wins including two internationals, and also voted Most Popular Horse by the Hong Kong fans.
The Champion Award for Sprinters went to Lucky Nine, Miler to Ambitious Dragon, Middle Distance horse to Military Attack and Stayer to California Memory.
The Most Improved Award was claimed by Yip-trained All You Wish with five wins and a second from six starts was a pointer to him becoming a topliner next season.
Betting for the season hit an all-time high, beating the 1997 record, at $HK 93.85 billion ($AU 13.2 billion) on 769 races – a year on year rise of 9 per cent and with commingling to boost those numbers even further next season.
It begins on September 8 at Sha Tin, when overseas fans will be betting directly into Hong Kong’s pools for the first time.
By Nathan Mody