Hong Kong Season Handle Increases 7%

The HKJC wrapped up its 2011-12 season July 15 at Sha Tin Racecourse.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club reported an increase in wagering for the racing season that ended July 15.

Pari-mutuel handle for the season was HK$86.117 billion ($11.1 billion), up 7.1% from the previous season. The Hong Kong government earned HK$10.159 billion, while the HKJC netted HK$3.795 billion.

Hong Kong offers about 85 racing programs per season at two tracks, Sha Tin Racecourse and Happy Valley Racecourse.

"This is the first time since the 2001-02 season that racing betting duty has hit the HK$10 billion mark," said Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, chief executive officer of the HKJC. "Despite the global financial situation, we are pleased to see our racing turnover continue to thrive, and we attracted nearly two million people to the races this season.

"This is testament to Hong Kong's world-class racing product, which our local racing fans are evidently happy to support. It is also an endorsement of our efforts in setting clear customer segmentation and providing customer-centric services."

Hong Kong imported 104 simulcast races that generated total handle of HK$1.621 billion, up 19.5% from the previous season, when 99 simulcast races produced handle of HK$1.357.

"We can only hope the government listens to our appeal to permit our customers to follow horses around the world," Engelbrecht-Bresges said. "I think it's a pity that one of the best horses in the world, Frankel, will run soon yet our racing fans cannot follow.

"One can clearly see from the figures that internationalization is something we want to be part of and have to be part of, and is something our racing fans appreciate."

On the final day of racing at Sha Tin, attendance exceeded 74,000.

On the racing side, Ambitious Dragon was named Hong Kong's 2011-12 horse of the year for the second successive season. John Size was champion trainer for the seventh time; Douglas Whyte earned his 12th consecutive jockey championship; and was top apprentice rider.