Select Asian racing jurisdictions profiled at 36th Asian Racing Conference
The third business session of the 36th Asian Racing Conference in Mumbai offered three profiles of Asian Racing Federation members Qatar, Turkey and Korea. In the session chaired by Yu Pang Fey, President and Chief Executive of the Singapore Turf Club, delegates heard of the history, challenges and future plans of racing in these member jurisdictions.
Nasser Sherida Al Kaabi, General Manager of the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club identified his nation’s ongoing development of racing both in the country, but also through overseas marketing efforts, while also beginning a commercial breeding operation. While Qatar’s partnerships with racing operators in France and England have focused on the Qatari brand, the goal is to “bring back competition to Qatar in the long run,” said Mr. Al Kaabi. The recent retirement by Qatar-owned Toast of New York, second in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a winner of the UAE Derby, is serving as a first foray to become a global breeding centre, with incentives for those sending mares to Qatar.
Inanc Inal, betting manager for the Jockey Club of Turkey, revealed an update on racing in the country, which included 984 race meetings for 5,428 races. With US$135 million in total prize money available, Turkish business has bucked other downward trends experienced by many other jurisdictions.
Finally, Park Yang Tae, Executive Director of Racing from the Korea Racing Authority (KRA) outlined the significant developments in recent years towards rebranding the racing experience. The KRA’s focus has been on internationalizing its racing product and revealed they will two Korean Group 1 events on 11 September at Seoul Racecourse with eight foreign-trained runners invited to compete against a similar number of local stars. This has led to significant attention on the development of modern quarantine and export protocols.
The KRA has faced challenges in addressing the illegal markets as they estimate the turnover through illegal channels to be US$11 billion compared to their legal handle, totaling US$7 billion last year, Mr. Park reported. Positively, though, brand awareness and favorability ratings of racing are on the rise, and the KRA is planning a new racecourse to be completed in 2020, with the project operating under the theme “unplugged horse utopia.”