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Hopes are high that the Hong Kong Jockey Club will be buying in significant numbers at this weekend’s big CTS Cape Premier Yearling sale, reports MICHAEL CLOWER of Gold Circle.

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

CTS boss Wehann Smith was unwilling to join in the speculation yesterday but he did say: “We are fully aware of what is going on between the Hong Kong Jockey Club and the Australian authorities, and the fact that they have decided to boycott the Magic Millions sale.

“I can confirm that the Hong Kong Jockey Club are here and that it is the first time that they are attending our sale. We are obviously extremely excited given our efforts at internationalising the sale.

“However it would be presumptuous to say that they are going to be buying horses. We are, though, extremely hopeful and we are 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 player in the drive to bring South African horses back onto the international scene – at present they have to quarantine in Mauritius for three months – and last year the HKJC’s CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “We have a major ambition to open up South Africa to be part of a wider international scene and one of our clear targets is that within the next two years we are able to find quarantine solutions with them.”