World Pools off to a strong start at the Royal Ascot meeting


A new era in international racing got off to a strong start at the Royal Ascot meeting in the UK last week with the first ever pari-mutual based World Pool.

Advertise and Frankie Dettori winning the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup (1200m) at Royal Ascot, picture Liesl King
Advertise and Frankie Dettori winning the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup (1200m) at Royal Ascot, picture Liesl King

In partnership with Ascot and Totepool, the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) created the first ever pari-mutuel-based World Pool in which overseas wagers from the UK, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Europe and the USA were co-mingled into Hong Kong’s pools directly or via Totepool to ensure maximum liquidity for a growing international audience.

Hong Kong has traditionally offered strong pools for Britain’s most famous Flat fixture but opening the market to international customers created significant extra interest.

"We introduced several innovations this year, including the important World Pool partnership with Hong Kong Jockey Club and Totepool. This saw investment into all pools at Royal Ascot totalling £92 million compared to £17 million last year, which is an increase of £74 million and over 400%," said Guy Henderson, Chief Executive of Ascot Racecourse after the meeting.

"There were no less than 27 World Pools at Royal Ascot this week which each attracted investment of over £1 million and 24 of the 30 races at Royal Ascot have been part of the World Pool. In year one, that is a great success and something to build on for the future."

The first day of the Royal Ascot meeting, Tuesday, June 18th, set the precedent for the rest of the four days.

Hong Kong has traditionally offered strong pools for Britain’s most famous Flat fixture but opening the market to international customers on the Tuesday created significant extra interest, with total turnover on the six-race card up from HK$163.2m (£16.3m) to HK$223.9m (£22.3m).

The year-on-year increase of 37 per cent saw almost HK$50m (£5m) wagered on the St James’s Palace Stakes alone as Circus Maximus was returned at 11/1 to complete a double for Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore.

Total turnover in the Win pools increased from HK$26.8m (£2.6m) to HK$47.6m (£4.7m) compared to the same six races on day one in 2018, leaving HKJC CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges to reflect on “a new dimension for the future of international wagering.”

He added: “It was a very encouraging start, with total turnover of HK$223m (£22m) including HK$52m (£5.2m) from our international commingling partners. Our thanks go out to all those who have worked so hard to make our joint vision of World Pools come true and I am convinced that we have a very strong foundation to build on.”

At this stage, the World Pool consists of four markets, namely those for Win, Place, Quinella (first two in either order) and Quinella Place (two of the first three in any order.) However, Engelbrecht-Bresges feels the scope for expansion is notable.

“In time I hope our next step is to also open up our exotic bets to the World Pool,” he added. “Exotic pools such as the Tierce (first three in correct order) and Quartet (first four in correct order) offer high liquidity with large dividends and these areas represent another significant growth opportunity.”

Richard Cheung, the HKJC’s Executive Director, Customer and International Business Development, said: “This is a great step forward for the Club’s co-mingling strategy. The operation teams of the HKJC, Ascot, Totepool and our technology partner Sportech were thrilled when the first World Pool was successfully concluded with the Queen Anne Stakes and the HK$49.2m (£4.9m) for the St James’s Palace Stakes is a record high for a simulcast race.”