The scene was set for fruitful and forthright discussion of racing issues and more when Asian Racing Federation (ARF) Chairman and Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, on 14February welcomed approximately 700 guests from 35 countries to the opening ceremony of the 39th Asian Racing Conference (ARC) at Palladium at Crown in Melbourne.
With the complications of Covid-19 easing, the conference has been eagerly anticipated after a three-year break since the most recent ARC in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2020 and returns to Australia for the fifth time and first since 2010 when held in Sydney.
“We are delighted with the exceptionally strong turnout for the conference and looking forward to our three-day Business Programme beginning on Wednesday, 15 February after the ARF has worked very closely with our host, Racing Victoria to curate an excellent business and social programme which will ensure that the 39th ARC continues to build on the strong foundation of its previous conferences,” Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
The Melbourne conference theme - Breaking Barriers - features a three-day programme of guest speakers and forums which will examine critical issues including the evolving racing and wagering landscape, fan engagement, horse ownership, equine and human welfare and will extend further to explore climate change and sustainability plus examine technological disruptors, integrity and future expectations.
“We have assembled an excellent line up of speakers including senior administrators, elite athletes and key stakeholders in racing and global sports, as well as global leaders who are paving new paths across disruptive technologies, business, entertainment, investigative practices and academia,” Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
“We will look to identify the barriers to a better future for our sport and how we will break them to the benefit of the many generations of racing fans to come.”
Racing Victoria Chairman, Mr. Brian Kruger said Racing Victoria was delighted to host the conference at the home of the world-famous Melbourne Cup and Spring Racing Carnival.
“Whilst we are rightly proud of the success of the carnival, there is no time to rest on our laurels and for racing to survive, and indeed thrive here in Australia and across the world, it is essential that we continue to innovate and broaden the sport’s appeal,” Mr. Kruger said.
“Renowned international forums such as the Asian Racing Conference, where new ideas can be exchanged and developed, are therefore crucial in ensuring the global growth of racing and I’m delighted at the tremendous response we have seen so far with more than 30 countries represented amongst the confirmed attendees.”
While the conference officially concludes on Friday (17 February), Racing Victoria will host guests at Saturday’s Group 1 Lightning Stakes meeting at Flemington and regional tours which will extend through until Sunday (19 February).
“Regional excursions will be available through the week and we look forward to the Black Caviar Lightning Race Day at Flemington, which celebrates the feats of the magnificent mare who retired with an unblemished race record from 25 career starts,” Mr. Kruger said.
“The 2023 Asian Racing Conference will showcase the very best that Victoria has to offer both on and off the track and I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to experience Melbourne’s famous hospitality.”
Guests at the opening ceremony experienced a traditional welcome to country by Uncle Ian Hunter followed by an indigenous performance by Mitch Tambo. The entertainment continued with performances by the Australian Girls Choir and globally-renowned violinist Sally Cooper throughout a gala evening hosted by Hamish McLachlan.
The Conference business sessions began on Wednesday morning with an examination of the current landscape and a keynote address from Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges.