JULY CUP AND THE AGE CLASSIC JOIN GLOBAL SPRINT CHALLENGE
The Darley July Cup, centrepiece of Newmarket’s Ritz Club July Festival, and The Age Classic Weight For Age (WFA), run at Australia’s internationally renowned Spring Racing Carnival in November, have been added to the Global Sprint Challenge in 2008, creating a series of eight races in 2008.
The Age Classic replaces the Australia Stakes (which is run in February), creating a second opportunity for horses to travel to Australia, after the European and Japanese legs have been run. The Coolmore Lightning Stakes at Flemington in February remains the opening leg of the Series.
The bonus structure for the series remains unchanged. A US$1 million bonus is still available to any horse that can win a Global Sprint Challenge Group One race in three different countries as well as competing in a qualifying race in the fourth country. However, the new structure, with the second opportunity in Australia in November, allows for horses to begin their bonus chase not just in Australia in February, but also at Royal Ascot and Newmarket in June and July.
The four partners in the Global Sprint Challenge – Ascot Racecourse Limited, Hong Kong Jockey Club, Japan Racing Association and Racing Victoria Limited – believe the changes to the structure will strengthen the series and encourage more European-trained horses to be actively campaigned within the Challenge.
Ascot’s Head of Public Relations, Nick Smith, said: “The inclusion of the Darley July Cup is a welcome and natural extension to the existing series.
“The Global Sprint Challenge has quickly established itself and has added a new dimension to the Royal Meeting, with Miss Andretti becoming the third horse trained outside Europe to win at Royal Ascot in as many years.
“The record of the Australian-trained horses in the King's Stand Stakes, especially this year when they filled three of the top four places, has been a significant contributory factor in the increase in quality of that race. We’re delighted to be able to announce that the King’s Stand Stakes will be run for £250,000 next year (from £200,000) and the Golden Jubilee Stakes will be run for £375,000 (from £350,000).”
Newmarket Managing Director, Lisa Hancock, added: “The Darley July Cup has a great heritage as Europe’s midsummer championship sprint and it is a natural follow-on from the two high profile races at Royal Ascot. The race has been increased in value by £25,000 for 2008, to £400,000. This increase, coupled with those at Royal Ascot, means that we can collectively offer more than £1,000,000 (US$2,000,000) prize money over the three UK legs.
“It will be a pleasure working with Ascot to try to bring more and more of the world’s best sprinters to compete in Britain and at the same time, hopefully Europe's best can be tempted to go to Australia, Japan and Hong Kong for their Global Sprint Challenge races as we move towards what could be the most genuinely international series in the history of our sport."
Victoria Racing Club’s Group 1 handicap, run at Flemington on Derby Day, will now be run as the new Weight-For-Age Sprint on Emirates Stakes Day in November 2008.
Leigh Jordon, Director of Racing Operations for Racing Victoria, said: “To have a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge run during Victoria’s prestigious Spring Racing Carnival is further proof of the growing status of the series and shows that the Spring Racing Carnival is a truly international event, which is growing every year. The addition of the famous July Cup to the schedule is also further evidence of the series’ standing on the world racing stage.
“February’s Coolmore Lightning Stakes remains the lead-off race, having launched Choisir’s, Miss Andretti’s and Takeover Target’s Royal Ascot bids in recent years, and the eight-race series culminates with the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint in December.”
Sam Takizawa, Secretary General, JRA, added: “We believe that it is most important for the Global Sprint Challenge structure to be able to promote as many overseas ventures to the four partner countries as possible, to further establish the prestige of the series. We welcome the Darley July Cup and The Age Classic to the Challenge.”
William A Nader, Executive Director of Racing at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, also endorsed the new format for 2008.
“Any move that encourages and strengthens top class international competition will always receive full backing in Hong Kong. Adding these prestigious British and Australian legs not only consolidates the Global Sprint Challenge, but also adds flexibility as far as the US$1 million bonus is concerned,” he said.
“The Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint has a tradition of producing champions – Silent Witness and Absolute Champion are recent examples – and it will continue as an essential component in identifying the world’s best sprinters. We look forward to attracting even stronger fields to our signature sprint event on the second Sunday in December.”
COUNTRY DATE RACE VENUE PRIZEMONEY US$^
Australia Sat 2 Feb Group 1 Coolmore Lightning Stakes Flemington $430,400
UK Tue 17 Jun Group 2 King’s Stand Stakes Royal Ascot $501,300
UK Sat 21 Jun Group 1 Golden Jubilee Stakes Royal Ascot $752,000
UK Fri 11 Jul Group 1 Darley July Cup Newmarket $802,000
Japan Sun 14 Sep * Group 2 Centaur Stakes Hanshin $1,111,300
Japan Sun 5 Oct * Group 1 Sprinters Stakes Nakayama $1,759,570
Australia Sat 8 Nov Group 1 The Age Classic (WFA) Flemington $430,400
HKJC Sun 14 Dec Group 1 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Sprint Sha Tin $1,500,600
* dates subject to change
^ subject to exchange rates