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Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Hong Kong v Royal Ascot: how do the two massive events compare?

Racegoers enjoy the music at the bandstand at Royal Ascot
1 of 1

Any racing fan who uses social media to follow the sport will have been unable to avoid the fact that Hong Kong is staging its Longines-sponsored International Meeting this weekend, the biggest event in its annual fixture list.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has been masterful in its use of Twitter and other platforms to promote its racing product but as horses from around the world prepare to do battle at Sha Tin on Sunday, the question is: how does this meeting stack up against others on the global stage, and specifically Britain's own flagship event, Royal Ascot?

We have split the comparisons into seven sections, so read on to see which meeting comes out on top . . .

Prize-money

It takes Royal Ascot the thick end of a week to reach the sort of prize-money levels at Sha Tin this Sunday, with a staggering £8,829,676 on offer in the four Group 1 races alone. The average daily prize-money at HKIR in the past five years has been £7,508,103, in comparison to £1,165,200 at each day of the royal meeting since 2013.

The fact that prize-money is greater in Hong Kong is hardly front page news but it is no less impressive to see such an eye-opening amount of money available on a single card. The lowest prize-money on offer on Sunday is in the first two races, Class 3 handicaps, worth over £135,000 each. British racing, take note.

HKIR 1-0 Royal Ascot

Betting turnover

It is a similar story as far as betting is concerned, with Sunday's races in Hong Kong set to attract some £135.2 million in turnover.

Compared to the daily average betting turnover in the past five years at Royal Ascot – £30m – it really is no contest.

HKIR 2-0 Royal Ascot

Highland Reel: a winner at Royal Ascot and HKIR

Attendance

The crowds down the home straight at Royal Ascot are a sight to behold, surely they cannot be trumped in Hong Kong? Think twice.

The average daily attendance for the five days in Berkshire since 2012 has been 57,895, while at the HKIR meeting, 80,759 is the average attendance figure on the day with another bumper crowd set for Sha Tin on Sunday. Advantage HKIR.

HKIR 3-0 Royal Ascot

Group 1 races

Four top-level races are on the ten-race card at Sha Tin, and although there is currently a maximum of three Group 1 contests on one day at Royal Ascot, the overall number tips the balance.

Eight Group 1 races are staged across the five days in June, so there is no doubting the winner in this category.

HKIR 3-1 Royal Ascot

International appeal

A significant part of the beauty of Royal Ascot is the international flavour of the meeting. Everyone remembers such memorable days with Lady Aurelia, Choisir and Black Caviar among many others.

There have been 16 British winners at HKIR since the inaugural running of the Hong Kong Cup in 1988, although Ireland have enjoyed just three successes, so the sheer number of international runners over the five days at Ascot annually ensures it’s another victory for the Royal meeting.

HKIR 3-2 Royal Ascot

Black Caviar (salmon silks): graced the turf at Royal Ascot when landing the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in 2012

Stars on show

The quality of horses running at HKIR is improving all the time but still has a way to go to match Royal Ascot.

Maurice, A Shin Hikari, Snow Fairy, Falbrav, Highland Reel and Ouija Board are among the leading lights to have hit the headlines at HKIR since the turn of the millennium and stars in their own right.

The greats have graced the turf at Royal Ascot though with Frankel, Dubai Millennium, Giant’s Causeway and Rock Of Gibraltar just a selection.

HKIR 3-3 Royal Ascot

Prestige

There can only be one winner in this category with Royal Ascot's enormous history providing it with a level of global prestige that the world's biggest gatherings can only dream of.

For those competing at the upper end of the sport, money is not everything and being associated with a winner at Royal Ascot continues to retain that vital money-can't-buy quality. The royal meeting dates back to 1711, when founded by Queen Anne, and is arguably the most prestigious event in the sport.

HKIR 4-3 Royal Ascot

Verdict

A late surge from Royal Ascot ensures the five-day meeting pips HKIR at the post.

The prestige, overall quality and international appeal results in the majority vote awarded to Royal Ascot, although there is no denying that HKIR has a burgeoning reputation with the prize-money, betting turnover and popularity ever increasing. Be sure to watch the action at Sha Tin on Sunday.


Read exclusive previews of the key races at HKIR from 6pm on Saturday on racingpost.com

Being associated with a winner at Royal Ascot continues to retain that vital money-can't-buy quality

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