May 19, 2014, California ~ Doug Reed, Director of the USA, University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program travelled to Hong Kong to take part in the recent May Asian Racing Conference. He gives us some of his impressions on the event.
“The Hong Kong Jockey Club did a wonderful job of hosting the 35th annual Asian Racing Conference May 5th through the 8th, 2014. The forum also gave the Hong Kong Jockey Club the opportunity to showcase and discuss the world-class racing that they host, as well as profile their recent successes in the last six years to turn the tide of declines into several years of growth.
It was of little surprise to hear a report on the state of the industry the first day from Jennifer Owen, research consultant, Aspire Wealth Management Pty Ltd, that turnover for the last six years has grown in Australia, France and Hong Kong, while Great Britain, Japan and the USA have been in decline. The decline in the USA was significantly due to the small field size American racing offers. It was also noted that racing had lost control if it’s pricing and this was a difficult issue for the industry.
The main focus on day two of the conference was connecting with the customer. I thought a number of the video and wagering innovations presented should be explored in many racing jurisdictions to better serve the customer. Horse racing is facing many more forms of entertainment competition and thus it must do everything it can to compete with the higher expectations of today’s entertainment consumer. Saadettin Atig, a member of the executive board of the Jockey Club of Turkey gave a report on day two about the breeding industry where Arabian Racing is much more popular than it is in the USA. Almost equal numbers of Arabians and thoroughbreds were bred in 2012 but the growth of the Arabian bred has been much more significant the last three years.
On the final day the focus was on integrity and the potential of the horse activities in mainland China. The morning session focused on reports of new initiatives and challenges in the regulation of horse racing. A report on the current equestrian activities in China was given and there was also much discussion on what needed to take place before horse racing activities might escalate in the mainland. The general consensus of the group was that a significant advancement in horse racing activities in the mainland was still about five years away.
The closing ceremony was hosted in grand fashion by the Hong Kong Jockey Club in the paddock at Sha Tin Race Course. The ceremony showcased a venue that the Jockey Club not only uses for racing but also for many large events.
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