Hong Kong season closes with strong growth and new highs
Season-long turnover hits new record of $20.6 billion
Hong Kong's 2016/17 season closed out at Sha Tin Racecourse on Sunday, with Time Warp's impressive Sha Tin Mile Trophy victory played out before a crowd of 36,949 and season-long turnover hitting a new high of HK$117.4 billion (S$20.6 billion).
The strong growth even surprised Hong Kong Jockey Club chief executive officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges who labelled this year's growth as extraordinary.
"This time last year, we weathered a small economic storm that impacted the region and resulted in a 2 per cent dip in our overall turnover, our first decline in eight seasons," he said.
"To come back from that with a new record of HK$117.456 billion for the season, up 10.7 per cent on 2015/16, is a tremendous performance."
That record figure tops the HK$107.925 billion high of 2014/15 and strengthens the club's contribution to the community via taxation.
"Our rise in turnover means that we will make a record tax contribution of HK$13.1 billion, a HK$1 billion increase on last year, which shows the strength of our product and the important contribution we make to the Hong Kong community," said Engelbrecht-Bresges.
Sunday's race-day turnover came in at HK$1.858 billion - a record for an 11-race meeting in Hong Kong.
The CEO acknowledged the extended season, which for the first time this term ran to 88 fixtures, five more than in the past, was a factor in that rise, but more so the success of the club's commingling strategy.
"Although we had five more mid-week race meetings this season, we staged only 22 more races. Comparing the full season of 83 meetings last year to this season's equivalent, our turnover is really up 6.9 per cent, with about two-thirds of that growth from local turnover and one third from commingling turnover," he said.
"The incredible interest in Hong Kong racing from the commingling jurisdictions is one of the main drivers in this year's growth.
"If you look at last year, the total turnover from commingling was HK$3.47 billion, which was 3.3 per cent of the total. This year, with our expanding portfolio of partners, total turnover from commingling was HK$6.5 billion, an astounding increase of 87.1 per cent and 5.7 per cent of the total.
"This gives us significant optimism going into next season because we can see that the attractiveness of Hong Kong racing's quality has really captured overseas markets."
Engelbrecht-Bresges also said it was "encouraging" to see increased day-to-day overseas interest in Hong Kong racing, which is now aired around the world.
Sunday's commingling turnover was a record at HK$183.4 million.
"Hong Kong racing attracts more and more attention because we are providing highly competitive racing, large field sizes, access to unparalleled racing information, and, of course, we ensure high standards when it comes to integrity and racing control measures," he said.
He also pointed to the club's total gross margin this term.
"A prime indicator of the health of our business is total gross margin," he said.
"So it is particularly pleasing to see that figure reach a record level, too, at HK$4.77 billion for the season, up 7.2 per cent on last season." - HKJC