Closing Ceremony of the 38th Asian Racing Conference and 2022 venue announced

After an engaging and informative week, the 38th Asian Racing Conference (ARC) closed on Friday evening, 21 February with Mr. Andrew Harding, Secretary-General of the Asian Racing Federation (ARF) and Executive Director, Racing, of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, thanking the forum’s South African hosts and announcing the venue for the 2022 ARC at a gala closing ceremony in Cape Town’s International Convention Centre.

Mr. Harding, on behalf of the Asian Racing Federation Chairman and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Officer Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, thanked the National Horseracing Authority of Southern Africa (NHA), represented by Ms. Susan Rowett who, last month, was appointed as the first woman to chair the 138-year-old authority.

The glittering closing ceremony, hosted by international broadcaster Ms. Aly Vance and featuring performance from Joseph Clark and the Electric Pops Orchestra, included the announcement that Melbourne would host the 39th ARC, with the Chairman of Racing Victoria, Mr. Brian Kruger and the Hon. Martin Pakula, Victoria’s Minister for Racing, Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Major Events, on hand to accept the ARF flag. Guests were treated to the Afro-soulful sounds of multi-award winning star Lira who jetted in from the Grammy awards in Los Angeles to join the evening star-studded line-up.

Mr. Pakula had earlier participated in the Engaging with Government as a stakeholder Plenary Session which was one of the 11 such sessions at the conference which Harding described as “relevant, incisive and thought-provoking” as the week’s theme of “unlocking potential” was well explored.

Mr. Harding said: “Our Chairman, Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, has been following the conference closely from Hong Kong by watching the live streams and reading the presentation materials. We have had regular debriefings and so my comments very much reflect his thoughts.”

Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges remained in Hong Kong to support the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s 20,000 staff and the Hong Kong community, but directly participated in the week’s proceedings via video link.

“It would be an understatement to say that the week we have just experienced has been a productive one,” Mr. Harding declared of the week’s events which featured more than 500 delegates, 50 different speakers and a raft of exhibitors.

Mr. Harding noted that the conference also featured excellent bureau meetings which included the International Stewards’ Conference, the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses session and the ARF General Assembly.

“The topics under consideration this week have covered virtually all aspects of our industry. Standing here tonight, I believe we have achieved a better understanding of not only our challenges, but also the opportunities that exist to unlock racing’s potential.

“Throughout this 38th ARC there has been one constant refrain - just as the challenges we face are global in nature so too does our future success depend on the extent we are willing to collaborate and act globally,” he said.

Mr. Harding outlined the following as “key takeaways” from the week: -

• International commingling will be key for the future development of racing as a global sport and, through this vehicle, we have the chance to really harvest the potential of our international racing. However a next generation of commingling protocols, matching the best practice of stock exchanges, will be required.

• 5G is a game changer and presents wagering and racing with a plethora of opportunities to both widen our fan base and unlock the full potential of the value propositions that racing can offer sponsors.

• In a world in which confidence in public institutions is diminishing, public confidence in the integrity and fairness of sport is becoming increasingly valuable.

• Horse welfare and well-developed aftercare initiatives are the cornerstones of a healthy, modern racing industry with the ARF committed to promoting the further strengthening of the industry’s horse welfare programmes and aftercare initiatives.

• The further work of the ARF Anti-Illegal Betting Task Force has enabled us to articulate for both governments and law enforcement agencies the scale and complexity of the illegal markets, their connection to organised crime and the impact to integrity and the reputation of the sport. The ARF is committed to achieving a multi-agency coalition to fight this scourge.
Mr. Harding thanked the Organising Committee for their work in preparing and staging the conference. “The 38th ARC has been exceptional. The resources that have been committed and the months of hard work are commendable and we are all greatly indebted to the leadership of Mr Ken Truter, the efforts of the Organising Committee and the support of key stakeholders, Phumelela, Gold Circle, Kenilworth Racing and the Racing Association. A special mention must be made of Mr. Dean Sawarjith - the importance of his commitment and drive cannot be overstated.”

Recently appointed NHA Chair Ms. Susan Rowett thanked the Asian Racing Federation. “We have come to the end of three formal days of a most informative conference. Thank you to the ARF executive team for an excellent program and thank you to all the exceptional speakers.

“I know that the knowledge and insights shared are helpful to us all as there are many problems that we all face. Unity and togetherness are a huge strength in overcoming challenges and that has been the mark of holding this conference with Phumelela, Gold Circle, Kenilworh Racing and the Racing Association all coming together behind the NHA.”

Ms. Rowett passed the ARF flag to Mr. Harding - which signified the conclusion of South Africa’s hosting of the 38th Asian Racing Conference - and the flag was in turn handed to Racing Victoria chairman Mr. Kruger.

“I’m delighted to be here representing Racing Victoria,” Mr. Kruger said, “and I want to say how excited and honoured we are to have been announced as the host of the 39th Asian Racing Conference. I’d like to thank Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges and the ARF Executive Council for the opportunity for Melbourne to host the conference for the first time since Australia became an official member of the Federation in 1961.”

Mr. Pakula added: “I’d like to congratulate the organisers on a wonderful conference here in Cape Town and say how delighted I am that Melbourne has been given the honour to host the next conference in 2022. Thank you to both the Asian Racing Federation and the National Horseracing Authority for this year’s conference and I look forward to seeing you in Melbourne in two years’ time.”

For more information on the 38th ARC, visit