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Cape Premier Yearling Sale bosses hopeful of attracting HKJC money

Sale could benefit from ongoing tensions between Hong Kong and Australia

The auction ring at the Cape Thoroughbred Sales complex
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South African hopes are high that the Hong Kong Jockey Club will be buying in significant numbers at this weekend’s CTS Cape Premier Yearling Sale in Cape Town.

It is believed that this will be a consequence of Hong Kong’s fallout with Australia and will result in Hong Kong becoming major buyers in the South African market. More importantly for the local breeding industry, it could lead to an end of the African Horse Sickness restrictions that have isolated the country’s racing and bloodstock industries from the rest of the world.

CTS boss Wehann Smith said: “We're fully aware of what is going on between the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Australian authorities, and the fact that the former has decided to boycott the Magic Millions sale.

“I can confirm that the Hong Kong Jockey Club people are here in Cape Town and that it's the first time that they are attending our sale. We're obviously extremely excited given our efforts at internationalising the sale.

“However it would be presumptuous for us to say that they're going to be buying horses. We are, though, extremely hopeful and we're looking forward to the sale.”

The Australian government suspended the movement of horses from Hong Kong to Australia just over three months ago. As a result Hong Kong horses can no longer be sent to Australia to race - unless they serve 180 days quarantine in New Zealand - and nor can Australian horses run in Hong Kong’s big international races.

Hong Kong is the main international supporter of South Africa’s drive to bring its horses back onto the international scene – at present they have to quarantine in Mauritius for three months.

Confirming the presence of Mark Richards and his team in Cape Town, HKJC chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said: "This is an outcome of the significant efforts spent in the last year by the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities and its International Movement of Horses Committee, along with South African authorities and the racing industry, to integrate South Africa's top-quality bloodstock and racehorses into global racing.

“We are encouraged by the progress and are exploring now, with the potential to buy some of South Africa’s high-quality yearlings.”

He added: “While any purchases will go through the current, established quarantine procedures via Mauritius, we are optimistic that direct import of South African horses into the EU is feasible in the near future. This would give our owners even more opportunities to source high-quality yearlings and racehorses from a proven, world-class source."

Engelbrecht-Bresges told local media last week that his buying team’s budget for the Magic Millions sale would have been up to HK$50 million (£4.6m), a significant increase on last year.

The CTS sale needs the Hong Kong input because, for the first time in many years, Markus Jooste will not be buying yearlings. The former Steinhoff chief executive has been the biggest buyer at the sale but is in the process of selling his bloodstock interests.

James Thomas will be in Cape Town bringing you the latest from the Cape Premier Yearling Sale in the Racing Post and online later this week

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