The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities 50th International Conference

The International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) held its 50th International Conference in Paris on October 3rd with HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein as keynote speaker.

A presentation on Racing and Breeding in the Philippines, one of the Asian Racing Federation’s affiliated members, was in the opening session of the Conference.

The Philippine Racing Commission, consisting of a Chairman, six commissioners and an executive director, was created by Presidential decree in 1974 to promote racing and breeding in the Philippines. The Vision of the Commission is to be recognized as: “A fast growing racing Industry contributing significantly to sports development, employment and revenues.”

Currently, there are 397 owners, 122 trainers, 124 jockeys and 565 grooms, with racing taking place at three tracks, Carmona and Naic in Cavite and Malvar in Batangas.

Racing is conducted all year round. Race meetings are held on weekends with 10-12 races with an average of eight horses per race, while night racing takes place from Tuesdays to Fridays. Betting turnover for 2015 amounted to $161 million, with the average prize money for the roughly 100 stakes races being $20,000, while the regular races average $5000.

The horse population is predominantly Philippine bred with only 5% percentage of the runners being imported. The local breeding industry consists of just over 1000 mares, producing in the region of 650 foals a year, due to a high mortality rate. Stallions and mares are predominantly imported from Australia and the United States of America, with 89 stallions currently at stud.

Four key focus areas have been identified by the Philippine Racing Commission. Firstly there is a need to increase the number and quality of horses in the Philippines. Secondly, the standard of racing and the appeal of racing to the younger generation should be of a high priority.

The Commission also highlighted a need for foreign investors and professionals, while an increase in the betting turnover is essential for funding purposes.

Future plans include the alignment with IFHA guidelines, drug testing, a rating system, the grading of races and a quarantine protocol. Louis Romanet Chairman of the IFHA, chaired the Open Forum, where Laboratory Certification came under discussion and the requirement for a harmonised system at the highest level was highlighted. Dr. Yves Bonnaire pointed out that this paramount for Racing Authorities, in particular for the important international races.

Progress has already been made with four laboratories ready for certification, while the process of expanding the number of candidate laboratories will start in 2017.

Andrew Harding, Secretary General, Asian Racing Federation, and Chairman of the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC), shared upon the progress that had been made. The formulation of Article 6E providing that Racing Authorities should extend their anti-doping controls to carry out testing at any time in a horse's career for the presence of non-therapeutic performance affecting substances has been one of the most significant policy development in recent history. It is a measure which is essential in ensuring fair competition transparency welfare and sound breeding. A pleasing majority of IFHA member countries have adopted “Out of competition testing.”

Andrew Harding also delivered a progress report on relations with the OIE, FEI and the Development of International Horse Sports Confederation, with the focus on improving the international movement of horses.

The Open Forum concluded with a presentation by Horacio Esposito, President of the Latin America Racing Channel on the second Pan Am Conference to be held in May 2017.

A panel consisting of Olivier Delloye, Director General of France Galop and Barry Irwin, CEO and founder of Team Valor, initiated a thought provoking discussion on the global problem of promoting and attracting new owners to horseracing. Delloye gave an insightful perspective on attracting new owners, while Irwin explained the need for and benefit of syndications. Louis Romanet concluded the session with a review of the past 50 years and what the future holds for the IFHA.

Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation and IFHA Vice Chairman Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges moderated the final session on Strategies to Secure and Grow Racing Revenues.

“Our major revenue source is wagering, which accounts for about 65% of our revenue. Therefore it is paramount that we develop sustainable business models that grow our sport and wagering income. But to most racing jurisdictions, this is not easy, given the fact that they don’t control the wagering operations,” explained Engelbrecht-Bresges.

“Racing in Hong Kong and Japan are perhaps the very few exceptions, as they own the business all the way from race production, race planning, prize money setting, racecourse experience, wagering experience including channels, IP rights including video rights, sponsorship rights, etc. Without this integration, the task of agreeing to a growth strategy becomes difficult as the interests of various stakeholders are not necessarily aligned. But it is not impossible.


“In addition to the above, there are some wagering operators using racing events without commensurate returns to the content organisers this is tantamount “free riding,” which is a case of market failure. Furthermore, the global illegal betting market poses as one of the most significant threats to the integrity of our sport and to our wagering income which is the lifeblood of racing,” he said.

With a more positive perspective, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges noted the major achievement for Australia to have established its Racing IP rights via the Race Fields Legislation, which requires both TAB’s and Bookmakers to pay for Race Fields.

Additionally, it was very encouraging that in March 2016, the UK Government announced its intention to introduce a Levy replacement by April 2017 to restore to racing a fair contribution from all operators, which has been lost simply because of the shift towards remote offshore betting.

Nick Rust, Chief Executive of the BHA, delivered an insight into their newly developed concept of Authorised Betting Partners, while Greg Nichols, Board Director of Racing Victoria, introduced the audience to their vision for Victorian Racing.

With the 95th Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly as the backdrop of the IFHA Conference, it was worth noting that this was the first international race that the Japanese were allowed to bet on. Makahiki (JRA) trained by Yasuo Tomomichi and ridden by Christophe Lemaire was the only Japanese entrant and Japanese fans wagered a staggering $40 million on the race, despite the race being run at just after 11 pm Japanese time.

Until recently Japanese horseracing fans were only able to wager on Japanese races. This changed when the Japan Racing Association (JRA) decided to allow wagering on 25 international races such as the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, the Emirates Melbourne Cup, the Breeders’ Cup, the Hong Kong Longines International Races and Royal Ascot. These races will, however, only be open to betting if there are Japanese runners involved.

Victoria Racing Club Chief Executive Simon Love and JRA President and CEO Masayuki Goto recently signed a formal agreement for the live broadcast of this year’s Emirates Melbourne Cup in Japan. Japan has been sending runners to the Melbourne Cup for some years, claiming victory in 2006 when Delta Blues (JPN) beat home compatriot Pop Rock (JPN).

“Japan Racing Association is excited to bring prominent thoroughbred racing events around the world to Japanese racing fans, not only for viewing purposes but to participate in wagering on the race. We hope this new initiative of simulcasting overseas races will build interest among existing fans and attract a new fan base to thoroughbred racing as true international sports entertainment,” said Mr Goto.

The Japanese runner for the Group 1 Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on November 1st is Curren Mirotic (JPN). The Melbourne Cup already has extensive international exposure with the Japanese wagering interest a further boost for the race that this year will have the majority of runners bred outside of Australasia.