Hong Kong Triple Crown
The Hong Kong Triple Crown has been a staple component of the Hong Kong thoroughbred racing season since 1992. It is, as it is typically the case, open to three-year-old colts and fillies and incorporates three first-class flat races. The series is so notoriously difficult to win that the Hong Kong Jockey Club feels comfortable enough to offer an incentive of an additional HK$5 million to the owner of the Hong Kong Triple Crown winner; as well as a consolation bonus for the owner of a horse who won the first two races but fell short at the third.
Since the inauguration of the series there has only been one winner of the Hong Kong Triple Crown: River Verdon, trained by David Hill, who pulled off the three victorious races in 1994. This fact only serves to reinforce the fact that this series of races is a test for even the most gifted equine athletes.
The Stewards' Cup sets the scene for the Hong Kong Triple Crown in January, when this first race of the series is hosted at Sha Tin Racecourse. The race is run on a turf surface over a distance of 1600 metres, about 1 ¼ mile. Although the Triple Crown did not come into existence until 1992, the Stewards' Cup was inaugurated in 1954 and the popularity has been rising steadily ever since. Currently the purse of the first race of the Hong Kong Triple Crown series in valued at ca. HK$8 million, which makes it one of the most coveted victories on offer.
The Hong Kong Gold Cup also takes place at Sha Tin Racecourse, Hong Kong's most prestigious race track. The race was introduced in 1979 and is held annually in February. The three-year-old contenders compete over a distance of 2000 metres, roughly 1 ½ miles, for another enormous purse of HK$8 million. As the second race of the Hong Kong Triple Crown it is the most ferocious of the three races, pitching the winner of the Stewards' Cup - the potential new Triple Crown champion - against a field of runners keen to prove their supremacy.
The Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup is held either in late May or in early June, at the prolific Sha Tin Racecourse. It is the last of the races in the Hong Kong Triple Crown and offers the opportunity to virtual immortality to the prospective winner of the series. The race runs over a distance of 2400 metres, almost two miles, which makes it the longest and most strenuous of the races. Worth the third set of HK$8 million, this is also one of the oldest continuously hosted races in the country, having been inaugurated in 1870.