Racing’s economic impact in the Asian Racing Federation Region

The positive impact of economic activity from racing throughout the Asian Racing Federation was highlighted after the close of the 2017/18 Hong Kong racing season on Sunday and earlier in the month by the impact of South Africa's premier race meeting, the Durban July.

Global growth underpinned the 2017/18 racing season in Hong Kong with overall turnover of HK$124.2 billion, representing a 5.8% increase on the previous season reported the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “We are delighted with another record season, one of our most exciting seasons both on and off the track.

“It is extremely competitive and exciting; we have world-class jockeys from right across the globe, world-class trainers, horses sourced from all over the world. We deliver the most international racing product, and, in terms of excitement, I don’t think any racing jurisdiction can match us on a race-by-race basis.”

The CEO emphasised the Club’s strong financial position: “Our total gross margin of HK$5.48 billion is an increase of 6.3 percent. Our contribution as Hong Kong’s biggest taxpayer once again topped HK$13 billion for the second time, demonstrating the importance of racing to the Hong Kong community.”

Much of the growth across the season was due to the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s strategic positioning as a global co-mingling hub. The total amount wagered with co-mingling partners reached HK$16.5 billion; a massive increase of 154.8% on last season’s HK$6.5 billion.

Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “Co-mingling is quickly changing the global landscape and that is seen in the fact that it made up 13.3 percent of our season’s turnover this year compared to 5.5 percent last year. Today (Sunday July 15th) we reached a new record of HK$335 million for a single race meeting, a truly extraordinary mark.

“It is now a significant driver to Hong Kong’s turnover and that is due to the ever-increasing international interest in our racing product, which is proving to be attractive as an exciting sports option founded upon the highest integrity.”

Also noted was the increase in simulcast turnover, with Hong Kong bettors wagering HK$3.94 billion on races from abroad, an increase of 12% on the previous season.

He said: “This trend comes at a time when our customers are showing a greater appreciation for international racing. The time is right for us to launch our World Pool concept, beginning with Royal Ascot next year, which will offer a strong value proposition to customers in the UK and Hong Kong, and further strengthen our position as the international hub of commingling.”

At the start of July it was South Africa that received a boost from racing with their largest meeting of the year, the Durban July at Greyville.

An economic report from Gold Circle before the meeting on July 7th said that an estimated R160 million would be spent directly on products and services, ranging from transport, accommodation, restaurants and hospitality, to fashion and entertainment with the figure calculated after spending on last year’s event.

Emphasising the across-the-board value that the Vodacom Durban July has on the local economy was the President of the Durban Chamber Of Commerce, Musa Makhunga.

“This event is one of South Africa’s most respected sporting events and has become a highlight for both South Africans and overseas visitors, who flock to Durban to witness what has become known as 'Africa’s Greatest Horseracing Event',” said Makhunga.

“An event of this nature brings an array of socio-economic benefits to the local economy and besides for the over R150 million injected into the local economy, the event produces annualised employment of 320 and government taxes of R10 million.”

Add to this spending of around R100 million on betting at both on-course and at off-course totes, and the Vodacom Durban July is responsible for an economic churn of between R250 and R300 million.

In the survey conducted by the eThekwini Municipality after the last year’s Vodacom Durban July the event attracted around 50 000 people of which 39% were people from outside the province. The source of the influx was mainly from Gauteng that accounted for 72% of the overall out-of-province visitors.

As for the race itself, the R4.25m, Grade 1 Vodacom Durban July (2200m), it was Cape Town trainer Justin Snaith who swept the feature claiming four of the first five home with Do It Again the winner.

Made To Conquer was second with former South African jockey Jeff Lloyd, now based in Queensland, Australia, riding to try and win his first Durban July before the 57 year-old retires this month.

Elusive Silver, also trained by Snaith, completed the top three while the Paul Peter trained Majestic Mambo finished in fourth and favourite African Night Sky fifth.