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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


Edited Hong Kong Jockey Club Release

-In a scene-setting opening address at the 39th Asian Racing Conference in Melbourne on Wednesday [Feb 15], Asian Racing Federation (ARF) chairman Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges encouraged racing leaders to embrace change and collaborate more in the face of global challenges

Speaking to an audience of more than 700 delegates from 35 countries, Hong Kong Jockey Club chief executive Engelbrecht-Bresges delivered an address titled ‘The Landscape’.

He said: “As racing’s leaders, we must embrace change and we have to drive necessary changes more rapidly. We have to collaborate more to drive these changes from sharing our experiences to joint initiatives.

Opening ceremony: more than 700 delegates from 35 countries are attending the 39th Asian Racing Conference in Melbourne. Photo courtesy of Racing Photos

Photo courtesy of Racing Photo

Opening ceremony: more than 700 delegates from 35 countries are attending the 39th Asian Racing Conference in Melbourne. “Most of the challenges we face can only be solved when we work together in a more strategic way and overcome the fragmented way of how racing is run, being at national, regional and global levels.”

Calling for joint efforts to uphold global standards in rules and practices to safeguard integrity, Engelbrecht-Bresges said collaboration was needed to fight the illegal betting market; to brand racing as a sport of the highest integrity – and not only wagering.

He also said racing needs more cohesive efforts to better market the sport and to expand audiences. This could be done through the creation of a new technology platform to enable racing to grow in the international wagering business via global simulcasts and the World Pool.

Engelbrecht-Bresges said combined efforts were required to build a technology platform to enable racing to embrace Web 3.0 development and to ensure relevance to Gen Z consumers, while seeking ways to make racing more sustainable and reach Carbon Zero 2040 to ensure the long-term future of the sport.

Pointing to key performance indicators such as rising average yearling sales prices, betting turnover and prize money increases, Engelbrecht-Bresges said racing “has successfully emerged from the Covid crisis and has shown great agility and resilience.”

“However, beyond these figures, racing faces significant global challenges going forward which, in my view, cannot be solved without fundamental changes and strengthening of collaboration and joint efforts to address these challenges,” he said.

Engelbrecht-Bresges said racing faced nine key challenges – industry fragmentation, integrity, illegal and off-shore betting operators, social acceptability, competition from other sports, an ageing customer base and engaging Gen Y and Z, branding racing as a global sport, sustainability and human resources.

Engelbrecht-Bresges asked “whether racing can move on to solve its structural problems and final strategic solutions to ensure its long-term viability” while also addressing climate change – but he remains optimistic over the sport’s future.

He added: “While I have outlined what our key challenges are – which seem to be daunting – but in light of the great resilience and innovation racing has shown during the pandemic, I see significant opportunities by embracing challenges and changes.”

In the second session of the conference business programme, titled ‘The Wager’, Engelbrecht-Bresges pointed to a desired further advance of World Pool growth against a backdrop of a widening gap between sports and racing betting – and disturbing illegal betting growth at almost twice the rate of the legal market between 2019 and 2021.

“Global liquidity is the key for all pari-mutuel operators and in turn for racing industry revenue and updating racing wagering, integration protocols for a global platform is imperative,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

• Visit the Asian Racing Federation website

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