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Asian RC: "Opportunities Via International Racing"

Thursday, 15th April 2010

The final day of the Asian Racing Conference in Sydney included a panel discussion of opportunities for the racing industry via the international racing calendar.

  • International Federation Of Horseracing Authorities chairman Louis Romanet said it was important to have "a lot of competition to establish international ratings for the audiences & punters to understand the quality of the races & horses". Romanet noted said a major problem for broadcasting of international racing was races starting on time; however a "dedicated racing channel operating 24-hours-a-day combined with co-mingling & international ratings would drive wagering". He added that when Japan & Hong Kong joined with co-mingled pools elsewhere in the world (which he was confident they would), this would be "of considerable interest to big punters".
  • US Breeders' Cup president Greg Avioli noted the last Breeders' Cup meeting in California had attracted 22 million viewers from 130 countries & revealed next year's Breeders' Cup would be broadcast in 3D. He also revealed the policy of travelling to a different venue each year throughout the US might stop "to base the meeting at one course in the same manner as other major international meetings throughout the world".
  • Racing Victoria chief executive Rob Hines questioned the strategy of broadcasting too much racing. Referring to broadcasts that featured back-to-back racing (& lacking gaps between races for viewers & punters to "take in the spectacle of racing" & consider ratings of the next race) he noted: "It can become like playing a poker machine. We have to try & get the atmosphere of racing through to the punter. We have to have gaps in racing. People are used to watching major sports throughout the week, such as football & golf, and we have to compete to capture that atmosphere."
  • Joe Janiak, trainer of Australia's repeated international competitor Takeover Target, highlighted the difficulties of quarantine when travelling horses to meetings & said that if he had another horse good enough to travel, he would seriously consider not travelling, such are the demands of quarantine.
  • Darley Australia head Henry Plumptre commented: "Horses get diseases & humans spread them. We need good interaction between clubs & countries if we want international racing on a regular basis."
  • Price Waterhouse executive director Roger Beale (who chaired the Australian inquiry into the 2008 equine influenza outbreak in NSW & Queensland) emphasised that race horses are "a very small part of the total animal trade. Australia is always going to be tough on the movement of horses to protect other huge agricultural industries." Beale cited a potential cost of $14 billion dollars to Australia if foot-and-mouth disease reached the country & said government would "always give more weight to the protection of the agriculture industry over relaxing controls for international horses".
  • Victoria Racing Club chief executive Dale Monteith said international horses create public interest & noted the "measure of free media publicity for the Melbourne Cup Carnival was rated at $45 million". Monteith also said the advent of international horses competing in the Melbourne Cup had seen crowd figures jump from 200,000 to 400,000 over the 4-day carnival.
  • Hong Kong Jockey Club executive director of racing Bill Nader said that over the next 10 years, there would be more horses flying to compete internationally & these meetings "needed to be used to cut through the clutter of regular racing, with television & media used to make the days like Olympic meetings". Nader also noted that an on-line search facility was being worked on "for the Asian region, where trainers would be able to access all Asian Racing Federation countries for all detail on their international races, including race replays for the past 5 years, results, ratings & quarantine & travel information". Nader said: "This will enable trainers to search what is required to compete at these meetings & it is important for the ratings to be the measure of the races & horses."
  • Satellite Information Services Holdings chief executive David Holdgate explained how co-mingling can develop international racing "with familiar bets for all punters, a level playing field for all wagering operators & good liquidity in the markets". But he emphasised "we have to have vision & data together".
  • New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Board chairman Guy Sargent said NZ had "standardised its rules & track information" with Australia for co-mingling & noted: "We were looking at the punters' end of the chain. Co-mingling will drive the world together."
  • Racing NSW chairman Alan Brown said common bet types were being worked out with Singapore, before the launch of co-mingling with that market.
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