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THE 4 C'S OF THE ASIAN RACING CONFERENCE

Globalisation and innovative technology have closed the gap of global boundaries, thus making the business environment more dynamic. At the 35th Asian Horseracing Conference (ARC) held in Hong Kong in May 2014, the fundamental question asked was: How do organisations achieve and sustain long-term survival in a competitive and multifaceted environment?

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ASIAN RACING CONFERENCE - HONG KONG 2014

The Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), Leung Chun-ying, struck a ceremonial gong to signal the start of the 35th Asian Racing Conference (ARC) during a stunning opening ceremony and gala dinner at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre last night.

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HORSE RACING : DAWN OF A NEW ERA

Horse Racing Asia
Horse Racing Asia

“The financial powerhouse over the next 25 years in racing will be the Middle East and Far East”

(Image : PaddyPower/123)

FINANCIAL POWERHOUSE • RACING SUPERPOWER

“You discount them at your peril.”

Frankel, a towering bay stallion that has never lost a race, bestrides the world’s racehorse rankings without ever having travelled outside Britain. His last race will be at Ascot on October 20th. He then turns to life at stud (breeding) where he is worth, on cautious estimates, £100m ($162m). His enviable retirement may mark the end of more than one era in the flat-racing world (only a handful of countries, chiefly Britain, race horses over fences, too).

John Gosden, a top British trainer, says that the “financial powerhouse” over the next 25 years in racing will be the Middle East and Far East. British racing relies on a lucrative bloodstock industry to make up for low prizes. But it is giving way to the Asian model of breathtaking winnings paid for by betting revenues and sponsors.

For now, British racing enjoys many advantages. Its bloodstock is the most prized and links with the Royal Family bring prestige. It is the second most popular spectator sport after football. Racecourse attendances are growing, by 6.6% to 6.15m last year. Foreign investors are still flowing in, most recently the Qatari Royal Family who have bought horses for breeding and racing; QIPCO, a Qatari investment firm, is sponsoring the British Champion Series, the highlight of the racing calendar, for £10m-plus over the next five years. The culmination of the series is Britain’s richest raceday: Champions Day races at Ascot in October, with over £3m in prize money.

Much of Britain’s racing establishment thinks the sun will never set. A race in Britain is the ultimate test; horses that run there become the most valuable. America’s laxer rules on drugs harm the reputation of its horses and races.

Yet ominous changes loom. Deregulation and the rise of offshore betting have cut racing revenues in Britain and Ireland. The prize money that gambling levies pay for has plummeted, sometimes below the levels of the 1980s. Last year’s total pot was only £94m ($150m), down from £104m in 2006. The winner of Britain’s most famous flat race, the Epsom Derby, gained a miserly £751,408 this year. Relative to the cost of owning and training a horse (around £25,000 annually) British prize money is now conspicuously low, despite the new Champions Day bounty.

The recession leaves owners and trainers short of money, too. The number of thoroughbred foals born in the British Isles has dropped from 18,472 in 2007 to 11,392 in 2011, and the average number of horses in training dropped by 3.2% last year. In Britain and America gamblers increasingly prefer other sports and online gaming. Race-betting in America was $11.4 billion in 2010, a drop of 22% from 2007, and counts as a “narrow interest,” says Chris Bell, who used to run Ladbrokes, a big betting firm.

Asia is another matter. With just 37% of the world’s thoroughbred flat races, it provides 60% of the money wagered, says Andrew Harding of the Asian Racing Federation. In Japan and Hong Kong, state gambling monopolies have made racing lucrative, with far bigger prizes. The three richest races in the world are now the Dubai World Cup ($10m), the Melbourne Cup ($6.4m) and the Japan Cup ($6.7m).

Already Western horses are heading east. The four most recent winners of the Dubai World Cup were trained in Dubai, Japan, France and America. The Melbourne Cup winner in 2011 was French-trained and Qatari-owned.

The new powers in world racing all have different models. Japan offers rich prize money as well as top-class breeding. John Ferguson, bloodstock adviser to Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, calls it a “racing superpower. In Hong Kong gambling is the main draw. Both models look more sustainable than Britain’s, admits Paul Bittar, the Australian boss of the governing British Horseracing Authority.

For now, Britons are cashing in. Harry Herbert, manager of two leading British racing syndicates, says that horses that once sold for a couple of hundred thousand pounds now go for half a million. He sold a horse called Dominant last year for £1m to run in the Hong Kong Derby.

But even Sheikh Mohammed, whose investment has sustained British racing over three decades, clearly sees a future elsewhere. Ten years ago he told Mr Ferguson to “look east”. His breeding operation, Darley, has bought eight farms in Japan, with 160 mares for breeding. Two years ago he was the first foreign owner granted a licence to start competing there.

Now he and the rest of the racing world are watching China, where racing seems to be blossoming into a high-society pursuit. The wealthy Chinese are “turning much more attention to racing,” and regard it as an untapped industry, says Felix Wang, author of the “China Horse Racing Bible. Though the sport was legalised only in 2008, already five racetrack permits have been awarded. The most ambitious is Tianjin’s Equine Culture City, which at an estimated cost of $2 billion will have two racetracks and be home to 3,000 horses. Racing is due to start in 2014, the Year of the Horse.

Chinese delegations have this year visited breeders and trainers in Ireland to buy horses, and made similar trips to Canada and France to sound out expertise. Irish Racing’s governing body employs a full-time representative in Beijing. Darley has started an equine training school for Chinese university graduates, and had 800 applications for 18 places last year, Mr Ferguson says. Mr Herbert, who manages two partly Chinese-owned horses in Britain, says that if China gets a taste for racing, it will turn the sport “upside down”. Most believe that this is only a matter of time. A decisive issue remains whether the government legalises gambling; if it does not, racing will have to depend on sponsors.

Similarly, the transfer of many great horses from west to east may erode the supremacy of British bloodstock. Mr Ferguson points out that British horses are regularly beaten by locals in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan. “You discount them at your peril,” he warns. One of the world’s top horses in recent years was Japanese-bred Deep Impact, which on retirement in 2006 was sold for ¥.1 billion ($65m).

Many assume Frankel’s breeding career will be in England. But if Asian demand for the best horses continues to soar, his fans may have to go east to see if his offspring are as marvellously fast as their father.

Extract from The Economist

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Jay Peg sends stopwatches flying in Singapore

Jay Peg
Kranji, Singapore, 14 May 2009
(Photo : Singapore Turf Club
)

The final countdown to the 2009 renewals of the Singapore Airlines International Cup and KrisFlyer International Sprint has begun.

 

This morning’s trackwork session at Kranji racecourse wound down to a sedatory pace, with most runners having already concluded the bulk of their preparations.

 

Interesting news from the Singapore Turf Club is that the only candidate to send stopwatches flying was the Herman Brown-trained 2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup winner, Jay Peg, who put a broad smile on his South African connections with a solid hit-out on the Polytrack, underlining his spot-on condition ahead of the $3million race. A bullish assitant-trainer Nicolas Iguacel could not resist sending out an ominous warning after the workout: “More than ready to defend his title!”

 

Jay Peg winning the
2008 Singapore Airlines International Cup Gr1

Hong Kong Champions Mile Group 1 : POST MORTEM


Champions Mile Gr1 2009
Sha Tin, Hong Kong

Mike de Kock is back in South Africa, so we can all breathe a sigh of relief. The man is a national treasure, and when it comes to the reputation of South African racehorses and their exportability, nobody’s done more for the game. We picked up on him shortly after he landed, and his feelings about Imbongi’s run (he finished just on two lengths behind the winner), was that he would’ve been a lot closer had he not lost ground on the bend. There was no explanation for it, other than the horse had a little bit of the “slows” midway through the race, yet he ran on resolutely, to get within two lengths of the winner, winding up 6th with a cheque in hand.

Mike’s feeling is that the setbacks his horses suffered in Dubai in the month leading to the World Cup, left them a little short in terms of their preparations, and he feels we’ll see a good bit of improvement when they start up their motors in England in the next month or two. Stay with us, there’ll be more to come from Imbongi.

ANTHONY DELPECH : A Star in Racing's Firmament

There are not many of us who understand what it takes to be a world-class race jockey. One man who’s had an almost uncanny association with the best horses from Summerhill, is Anthony Delpech.

THE CHAMPIONS MILE (Gr.1) : Sunday dawns in Hong Kong

Imbongi 23 April 2009
(Photo : Hong Kong Jockey Club)

You can go into any worthwhile website on racing anywhere in the world right now, and you can pick up news of this weekend’s big events in Hong Kong, including the Champions Mile. However, the one thing you won’t get is a statement from the horse’s mouth, so we thought we’d bring you news of our most recent bulletin from Mike de Kock, who sends our home-bred, Imbongi to post on Sunday.

Anyone hoping to make any sort of impression in this race would have to take history into account in their calculations, knowing that in all its time, the Hong Kong Champions Mile has yet to witness a placed runner among its foreign raiders, and that last year’s spectacular hero, Good Ba Ba reached the post in an amazing 1min 31.3 secs, and you know what you’re up against.

However, Mike de Kock is of the firm view that Imbongi is a real contender, provided he is over the troubles which confronted so many of the Mike de Kock stable in Dubai over the World Cup, and if Imbongi can get back to a modicum of the form which carried him to stardom in two Guineas and a triumph over Horse Of The Year, Pocket Power ans well as four other Grade One winners in the Drill Hall last season. Mike tells us though, that Imbongi managed an official “bullet” 21,5 secs for the last 400m of his final workout on Tuesday. If that’s not notice he’s ready to run for his life, tell us what is?

Keep your heads down, there could be an explosion Sunday morning (9:55 am our time).

SUNDAY SILENCE : The Undying Legacy

Sunday Silence
(Photo : Jockey Site)

There’s a battle royal on the boil between the respective farms of the Yoshida brothers in Japan, Shadai Farm and Northern Farm for the Breeders’ Championship of the nation.

These two giants of the Japanese domestic breeding scene have been banging it out, hammer and tongs, for years now, with Northern Farm leading the march for five consecutive seasons. However, it seems this year, they have their hands full with brother Teruya Yoshida’s Shadai, who leads the list by a relatively comfortable margin at the time of writing. The last couple of weeks have witnessed something of a turnaround though, and this weekend’s Satsuki Sho (Japanese 2000 Guineas) was the best illustration of the saying “it’s never over till the fat lady sings”.

While the hot favourite for the event, the hitherto unbeaten Logi Universe (by Neo Universe, by Sunday Silence) went off a warm favourite, he had no answer for the closing rush of his paternal half-brother Unrivalled (also by Neo Universe) who prevailed by 1,5 lengths from another grandson of Sunday Silence (by Special Week,) Triumph March. Given his interminable dominance, it may have seemed surprising the third horse across the line Selun Wonder, was not descended in male line from the “Emperor” of Japanese stallions, but the “wonder” arises at the revelation: that his dam is by none other than, (you must have guessed it,) Sunday Silence himself. The first two across the line were both bred by Northern Farm, and strung together more than ¥180 million in the process. As a matter of curiosity, both descended from Northern Dancer-line mares, in the one case ex a daughter of Sadler’s Wells, the other a mare by Dancing Brave.

It’s perhaps something of a commentary on how slowly we occasionally react in this country to the obvious, that we have as yet no son of Sunday Silence in our stallion ranks, especially as the youngest of his remaining progeny at the races is now six years old. That’s something we intend to remedy at Summerhill, so we would advise our readers to keep on reading.

Imbongi and Archipenko working well in Hong Kong

imbongi and archipenkoArchipenko (left) and Imbongi (right)
(Photo : www.racingweb.co.za)

Racingweb reports that Archipenko and Imbongi enjoyed a refreshing time in the wash bay after their Saturday workout at Sha-Tin racecourse in Hong Kong.

Mike de Kock’s runners are being prepared for this week’s Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and Hong Kong Mile respectively and assistant trainer Steven Jell tells racingweb.co.za: “Archie with Kevin Shea and Imbongi ridden by Jeff Lloyd worked together over 1400m on the grass track proper at Sha-Tin today (Saturday) and they were impressive.”

“We’ve had quite a lot of rain so the track is in good condition. They picked up speed from the 800m mark and completed the last 400m in an official 21.5s, very good. Both are looking well and we’re looking forward to next week.”

Mike de Kock himself will be jetting to Hong Kong within the next few days.

Archipenko and Imbongi arrive in Hong Kong

Imbongi arrives in Hong Kong
(Photo : Hong Kong Jockey Club)

News from Mike de Kock is that Archipenko and Imbongi have arrived safely in Hong Kong where they are set to do battle in the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup and Champions Mile respectively.

With combined stakes of HK$26million, these two Group 1 races will witness an international field of top-class horses, come Sunday 26 April at Sha Tin racecourse.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club reports that, “this year’s renewal of the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup will feature two former champions in Archipenko and Viva Pataca and we are also delighted to have leading competitors from Australia, France, Great Britain, South Africa and the United States.”

“In the Champions Mile, we are delighted that increasing the race’s purse by 50 per cent to HK$12million has resulted in its strongest ever field. Four very interesting runners representing Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the United Arab Emirates will try to break a local stranglehold in this race but Good Ba Ba, the reigning champion and Horse of the Year, still appears the one to beat.”

Audemars Piguet has been a terrific supporter of Hong Kong racing. This, in fact, is the 11th year for our partners, the master Swiss watchmakers, to sponsor the Audemars Piguet QEII Cup, the season’s springtime showcase,” said Mr William A Nader, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Executive Director of Racing. This meeting has clearly become a very important day of international racing which, I’m sure, will enthrall fans from around the world.”

Audemars Piguet QEII Cup Gr1
2000m
HK$14million (approximately US$1.8million)
Ratings Order

Viva Pataca - Six-time Gr.1 winner, including a comfortable success in this race in 2007. Completed his preparation for this event with a sound third-placed run from top weight in last weekend’s Chairman’s Trophy (HK Gr.2).

Archipenko - Scored readily in this race last year to precede a Gr.2 win in England and an unlucky reverse in the Arlington Million. Started favourite for the Dubai Duty Free last month but was never dangerous in sixth.

Presvis - Capped a fine Dubai International Carnival with a fine runners-up finish in the Dubai Duty Free from a wide barrier and looks to be still on the upgrade.

Niconero - Veteran winner of five Gr.1 races is in the form of his life. Has twice collected at the highest level and finished a creditable fourth in the Dubai Duty Free in recent weeks.

Packing Winner - HK Gr.1 winner of the Citi Champions & Chater Cup last year from Viva Pataca having run fourth in this event.

Artiste Royal - American-trained Gr.1 winner who was not tested when hemmed in on the rails in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup last December. Has since won at Gr.2 level in California.

Chinchon- Three times placed in French Pattern events, including once last year in front of Collection, the subsequent Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby champion.

Thumbs Up - Triumphant in the HK Gr.1 Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Classic Mile in January and runner-up to Collection in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby last month.

Bullish Cash - Triumphant in the HK Gr.3 Premier Plate last season and placed in the same race last month.

Viva Macau - Dual winner of the Ladies’ Purse (Class 1) and Gr.1 placed both locally and in France.

Roma Pegasus - Fifth in both the Randwick and Rosehill Guineas in Australia before similar finishes in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Classic Mile, Derby Trial and Derby.

Danesis- Runner-up in his last start in the HKGr.3 Premier Plate to leap to a triple figure HK rating.

Champions Mile Gr1
1600m
HK$12million (approximately US$1.54million)
Ratings Order

Good BaBa- Six-time Gr.1 winner, current Horse of the Year and defending champion of this race. His international rating of 124 for winning the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Mile is the highest ever accorded to a Hong Kong horse.

Egyptian Ra - Only two horses are rated higher in Hong Kong after his all-the-way success in the HK Gr.1 Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup from Good Ba Ba. He won the HK Gr.2 Cathay Pacific International Mile Trial in similar fashion.

More Bountiful - Shot up by 21lbs in the ratings - a record rise this decade - in the wake of his authoritative success in the Chairman’s Trophy (HK Gr.2) last time.

Alexandros- Career best performance last time out when third in the Dubai Duty Free on the back of two earlier wins at the Dubai International Carnival for Godolphin.

Armada- Former Champion Miler for winning the HK Gr.1 Stewards’ Cup in 2007. Runner-up in both this race and the Yasuda Kinen last year.

Fellowship - Placed in his last three starts, two of those at the highest level and knocking on the door of his maiden HK Gr.1 victory.

Imbongi- Dual Gr.2 winner and also Gr.1 runner-up in South Africa.

Collection - The new star of Hong Kong racing after his terrific triumph in the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby. Drops back in distance here.

Sight Winner - Most Improved Horse in Hong Kong last season and his consistency in the best local races has maintained the upward curve this season.

Dao Dao - Four wins last season for John Size in Hong Kong and a Listed winner in Sydney last weekend for his former trainer, John Hawkes.

Sir Slick - Six-time Gr.1 winner in New Zealand where he is known as the ‘People’s Champion’.

Unique Jewellery - Winner of the Mercedes-Benz Hong Kong Derby Trial and a commendable fourth in the Classic itself.

Gem Of Chiu Ton - Listed placed in England before arriving in Hong Kong where he appears on the verge of a breakthrough success.