Monday, 16 July 2012
: Hong Kong 2011/12 racing season cam to a close on Sunday when a crowd of over 74,000 created a fantastic atmosphere at Sha Tin for the finale.
Ambitious Dragon was crowned Hong Kong's 2011/12 Horse of the Year for the second successive season at the Champions Award Presentation Ceremony.
Also crowned was John Size as Champion Trainer for the seventh time,
Douglas Whyte earned a remarkable 12th consecutive jockeys' championship, and Ben So took the Champion Apprentice trophy.
“It's been a truly incredible finale to a wonderful season with a great atmosphere, a strong attendance and high turnover figures - if you put everything together I think it's the best season we have had in Hong Kong racing,” enthused HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges.
Betting turnover for the season reached HK$86.117 billion, marking a 7.1% increase on last season.
Racing betting duty paid to the Government reached HK$10.159 billion and the Club's net margin stands at HK$3.795 billion.
“This is the first time since the 2001/02 season that racing betting duty has hit the HK$10 billion mark,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges.
“Despite the global financial situation, we are pleased to see our racing turnover continue to thrive and we attracted a total of nearly 2 million people to the races this season.
“This is testament to Hong Kong's world-class racing product, which our local racing fans are evidently happy to support.
“It is also an endorsement of our efforts in setting clear customer segmentation and providing customer-centric services.”
Notably, since betting duty reform came into effect after 2006, race betting duty has increased from HK$7.493 billion to HK$10.159 billion, and in the same period, the amount retained by the HKJC for operations and charitable initiatives has risen to HK$3.795 billion from HK$3.262 billion.
Engelbrecht-Bresges emphasized horseracing's core role in building the Hong Kong brand overseas, and highlighted the importance of ensuring that the club remains a prime player in the global market.
“I would like to stress that we are one of the very few Hong Kong world class brands, so we have invested and will invest even more in keeping this brand position around the world,” he said.
The club's overseas simulcast races continued to earn increasing popularity with racing fans this season as total turnover reached HK$1,621 million for 104 races, a 19.5 per cent increase when compared with HK$1,357 million from 99 simulcast races last term, providing further evidence of the great demand for simulcasting among local racing fans.
“We can only hope that the Government listens to our appeal to permit our customers to follow horses around the world.
“One can clearly see from the figures that internationalisation is something we want to be part of and have to be part of, and is something our racing fans appreciate,” said Engelbrecht-Bresges.”
The ongoing Racecourse Master Plan has, over the past season, addressed customer requirements with facility upgrades at Happy Valley and Sha Tin Racecourses.
Hong Kong's horseracing brand has continued to make an impact on the international stage thanks to the competitiveness of Hong Kong horses at the highest level.
Little Bridge, crowned Champion Sprinter and Most Popular Horse of the Year, capped the campaign with a brilliant overseas G1 win in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, while Hong Kong horses won four of the six international G1 races staged in Hong Kong in 2011/12, including three of the four HKIRs in December.
Tellingly, a record 21 Hong Kong–trained horses made the elite end-of-year 2011 World Thoroughbred Rankings, marking an increase for the fourth successive year.
With a horse population of only 1,200, the achievement is particularly noteworthy and emphasizes the strength of Hong Kong racing.