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HKJC Looks to Arrest Revenue Slide
Following the news over the weekend that the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s betting turnover on racing dropped an enormous HK$1.6 billion between March and June, chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges has proposed that more trainers and horses are needed to bolster the waning gambling industry. Engelbrecht-Bresges told the South China Morning Post that 23 or 24 trainers was the optimum number for the Hong Kong racing ranks; however following Michael Freedman’s recent return to Australia there are currently only 21 - which consequentially affects the horse population. The 1,276 registered horses have had to bear the load of the 817-race, 89-meeting season, which led to smaller, less ‘betting friendly’ fields. “As soon as the field size falls below 10, not only is there less turnover, the number of people who bet is reduced by 10 or 15 per cent… they don’t see value, so they don’t bet.” Engelbrecht-Bresges theorised other variables - such as class structure and the lack of fixed odds betting - could be contributors, but declared his reluctance to alter the current system, citing the integrity of the industry. Ultimately, he reiterated the need for more horses, trainers and jockeys as the most pressing. “It comes down to a product and excitement issue. I think one of the key things with Hong Kong racing is the close finishes and the competitiveness of the racing. It’s not just about revenue, it’s about excitement,” he said.