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A CASE OF READ IT AND WEEP

By Hong Kong Jockey Club and Graham Potter | Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, hosted his annual pre-season press conference at Sha Tin Racecourse last Saturday ahead of the new season, which begins on September 3. While it would be most unfair to compare apples with oranges, the fact remains that for many racing executives in Australia what Engelbrecht-Bresges was able to put forward was a case of ‘read it and weep.’

“Following a successful 2015/16 campaign which yielded the second-highest turnover in the history of the Club, we are duly prepared to embark on the first 88-meeting season in Hong Kong racing” said Engelbrecht-Bresges. “The stage is set for a phenomenal season.”

Engelbrecht-Bresges recapped the goals of the Club’s decade-long growth, which have transformed Hong Kong into one of the world’s leading racing jurisdictions.
“Our aim has been to develop racing to a truly world-class level, and we have done this through a variety of factors,” he said.

“Nearly one-quarter of the world’s top 25 races are conducted in Hong Kong, and we have grown from having just one horse in the world rankings in 1998 to more than 20 in each of the last three seasons.

“To ensure this level of success, we have maintained prize money increases to incentivise our owners to import world-class horses. We strive to achieve the highest integrity within our racing product, ensure a level playing field for fair competition, and provide our customers with unlimited access to information, enabling them to make the most informed decisions possible when betting on our races.”

The final turnover figures from the completed 2015/16 season showed that overseas customers have exhibited a rising interest in the Club’s races following the introduction of commingling and more growth is anticipated in the new term.

“Last season, commingling turnover was HK$3.5 billion, up by 31.5 percent compared to the previous season, and representing 3.3 percent of total racing turnover. Commingling will be a key growth driver going forward.

“Both the United Kingdom and Canada are due to join our growing list of commingling partners in the first half of the season and we continue to have fruitful discussions with potential new partners beyond that, specifically in Ireland and the many European countries affiliated with French-based PMU.”

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Mr Anthony Kelly, Executive Director, Racing Business and Operations, communicated the enhancements to owners’ incentives for the new season, focused on the prize money increases.

The Chairman’s Sprint Prize purse has increased from $10 million to $14 million while the Champions Mile has been boosted from $14 million to $16 million. Increases to class racing prize money averaged 5.2% for the season, with a record of more than HK$1.1 billion scheduled for distribution.

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Other items discussed at the press conference included:

1 - An update on the construction of the Conghua Training Centre,

“I cannot stress enough how important Conghua is to allow us to further develop our world-class racing product. The construction is progressing well in time for opening in July 2018. Conghua offers us the opportunity to provide a world-class training facility while addressing our ageing facilities in Sha Tin, built to requirements 40 years ago,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

2 - News that the Club’s recently concluded Racing Trainee recruitment campaign experienced application growth of more than 50 percent from the previous year.

3 - A report on the new venues at both Happy Valley and Sha Tin Racecourses and the latest developments in the third phase of the HK$6.7 billion Racecourse Master Plan.

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All in all, it was a pretty impressive presentation by a club on the front foot that clearly is not prepared to rest on its laurels but rather seeks to set the bar higher each year.

They do what they do best by defining and implementing strategies which will carry them close to the mark and then they top it off with hard work to get over the line.

Of course most racing precincts around the world do not have the money that is available to the Hong Kong Jockey Club or the agreeable circumstances in which they operate ... but there is nothing stopping them from harnessing the same professional attitude that Hong Kong exhibits.

If they do that they might be pleasantly surprised how far that can carry them.

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The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, addresses the media during his annual pre-season press conference at Sha Tin racecourse
The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, addresses the media during his annual pre-season press conference at Sha Tin racecourse
Mr Anthony Kelly, HKJC’s Executive Director, Racing Business and Operations, emphasises prize money increases to incentivise owners to import world-class horses

Photos:
Courtesy Hong Kong Jockey Club
Mr Anthony Kelly, HKJC’s Executive Director, Racing Business and Operations, emphasises prize money increases to incentivise owners to import world-class horses

Photos:
Courtesy Hong Kong Jockey Club
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