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Hong Kong season ends with record turnover and attendance

Happy Valley Hong KongHong Kong’s 2014/2015 racing season ended on July 12th in a a celebratory atmosphere before more than 42,000 racing fans, which represented an 8.9% increase on the same day last year. Champions were crowned trackside, cumulative attendance for the entire campaign was the highest for 12 years, season’s turnover climbed to yet another peak and the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges reflected upon an incredible record-setting season.
 
During the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s 130th Anniversary, Hong Kong horses excelled at home and abroad, winning nine out of 10 Group 1 races at Sha Tin and breaking new ground at the elite international level. Six of Hong Kong’s Gr 1 races were included in the 2014 World’s Top 100, with four in the Top 25, and a record 23 Hong Kong-trained horses featured in the year-end LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.
 
Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges recalled the excellent global achievements of Hong Kong’s elite horses, which included some notable overseas G1 wins such as Dan Excel and Aerovelocity who gave us a third consecutive Group 1 double in Singapore. Aerovelocity also became the first overseas horse to win Japan’s (Gr 1) Takamatsunomiya Kinen and Rich Tapestry gave Hong Kong a first Group 1 win in the US. But Able Friend being rated, at the end of 2014, as the third best racehorse in the world, and then temporarily ranked first in the world, is an achievement we can all be proud of. With only 1,200 horses, to be that successful speaks for the world-class racing product we have in Hong Kong.
 
In lauding those achievements, Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges also stressed the necessity of continued endeavor in order to maintain Hong Kong’s culture of world-class success and improve upon what has already been accomplished.
 
“It is not for us to rest on our laurels” he said. “Our goal is to further improve, even though the economic circumstances for next season, we think, are a little bit more challenging. But we always have an optimistic outlook for the future.”
 
Turnover for the season finale came in at HK$1.758 billion, which in turn carried the season’s overall turnover to a new high of HK$107.9 billion, up 5.8% on last season. That record represents the third consecutive season that a new pinnacle has been reached and is the second time that the figure has topped the HK$100 billion mark.
 
“The record turnover this year is the result of a lot of hard work. Since the 2005/2006 season, turnover has increased 79.7 percent, which is testament to the successful strategies the Club has undertaken in that time to revitalize Hong Kong horseracing,” said Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges. “The season’s record turnover has in turn provided a record tax contribution from racing of HK$12.3 billion, which means that horseracing has again been able to make a significant positive contribution to the Hong Kong community.”
 
Overall attendance across the season¦s 83 race meetings at Hong Kong¦s two racecourses, Sha Tin and Happy Valley, reached 2.071 million, the highest for 12 years and a 2.6% increase on 2013/2014.
 
“It is rewarding to see us exceed the two million total attendance figure for the third consecutive season. This is a result of the right strategy, the right investment in facilities and technology; I think it has to do with people V we have a fantastic team who are able to understand what our customers want and provide those services,” said Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges.
 
The Jockey Club CEO pointed to the season’s new racecourse venues as having succeeded in offering greater variety and enhanced race-day experiences for targeted customers. He also identified the success of the Happy Wednesday brand as being a notable factor in boosting attendance and participation at Happy Valley.
 
“It has become one of the most interesting tourist attractions you can find,¨ he said. “It is a must-do, must-go venue every Wednesday night, and therefore we have been able to revitalize racing where most other jurisdictions have not been able to do so.”
 
In line with the Club’s strategy to apply new technologies, Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges highlighted the new Sha Tin Communication & Technology Centre, which exhibits the Club’s commitment to sustainability.
 
“The building is a statement of what we want to do in creating a wonderful environment for our staff, he said. Technology will become even more important, so that is one reason why we have invested a significant amount of money to create a working atmosphere for our Telebet staff that is state-of-the-art; for our broadcasting team, which becomes more important going forward; and our IT team, because we will embark on a new journey of a HK$2.6 billion investment in a new IT system and that’s our commitment for the future.”
 
The CEO also had a word for commingling which continues to gain greater traction.
 
“Commingling has been a major strategic initiative. We now have 11 commingling partners and if you look at today the commingling turnover was HK$50 million, which shows that we are growing and we will hopefully see a further increase going forward.”
 
In concluding his end-of-season remarks to the media, Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges said, “It was a marvelous 130th Anniversary season, it was a record-setting year but I think, for all the planning we do, in the end it is about our customers, so I want to thank them, and I want to thank our owners, trainers and our stable staff who have made such a contribution to Hong Kong’s success; I want to thank our team at the Jockey Club who have enabled us to achieve these new heights.”
 
(Source: Hong Kong Jockey Club)
 
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