Archives for September 1, 2019

68k Attend Hong Kong Racing at Sha Tin

Hong Kong horse racingPositive start to Hong Kong’s 2019/20 season

Hong Kong’s 2019/20 season opened today, Sunday, 1 September, with an enthusiastic crowd of 68,271 cheering on their sporting heroes in an atmosphere of positivity at Sha Tin racecourse.

Race goers roared loudest for 13-time champion jockey Douglas Whyte, who saddled his first winner as a trainer.

Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We know that we are in challenging times here in Hong Kong but I found it very encouraging to see the positive energy that was created at the racecourse today.

“The first-race atmosphere, the excited anticipation from the racegoers, was extremely good and the results, from a sporting point of view, were extremely pleasing: It was great to see Douglas Whyte have his first winner with only his second runner.”

The CEO was also delighted with the five successes on the day for Hong Kong’s home-grown riders, all of whom are products of the world renowned HKJC Apprentice Jockeys’ School.

“Our Hong Kong-grown talent has done extremely well today,” he said. “You can see the confidence in Vincent Ho, in how he rides, and it is encouraging for them to win five of the 10 races despite the significant increase in competition from our new arrivals, who also did well today without winning.”

Turnover was HK$1.28 billion, while the attendance was the fourth highest in the last 25 years.

“We are very pleased to see the total attendance at 68,000 – that is a positive outcome and exceeded the expectation I had,” Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges admitted.

“I was really surprised that we could hold up the attendance to this level, which is similar to the crowd we had here on the opening day in 2017. I hope this shows Hong Kong racing is strong and we hope we can continue with this positive momentum.

“The turnover was up by HK$35 million to HK$1.28 billion, and again, I have to admit that I expected it to be much lower today. Our commingling turnover has gone up from HK$158 million on this day last year to over HK$209 million. That shows the competitiveness of the overseas market.”

Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges thanked the city’s racing fans for the “tremendous support and the resilience they have shown” in a challenging situation. “We have got the first race meeting off the ground with a positive start and that emphasises the strong support we have from our fans. I would also like to thank our staff for their dedication to make this happen” he said.

South Korea emerging as a horse racing hub

Horse racing fans know that lucrative horse races take place in Japan throughout the year. However, another Asian nation is fast emerging as a horse racing hub that is paying out large sums of money to trainers, owners, and jockeys. Horse race fans can visit Pennsylvania online sports betting for the latest events and wager on the horses they believe will win on a race day.

South Korea has become a horse racing hub despite it being a relatively new phenomenon in the country. The Korean Racing Authority amazingly estimates that 13 million South Korean residents attend horse races. That figure represents 25% of South Korea’s total population.

Why is horse racing’s popularity increasing?

Modern horse racing in South Korean made its debut in the 1920s. The horse racing featured the modern betting system in which horse racing around the world features. Although the sport has been present on the peninsula for nearly a century, it has only recently soared to new heights.

South Koreans, as a population, are renowned for supporting their countrymen who find success outside of the peninsula. More South Korean trainers, horses, and owners are participating in races around the globe.

The prestige of South Koreans participating in events outside the country continues to grow interest from those inside the nation. In addition, more South Korean races are attracting top competitors from other countries which is bringing out fans to watch at home racecourses.

Another reason horse racing’s popularity in South Korea is growing is thanks to music. K-Pop music, one of South Korea’s biggest exports, provides a concert-like atmosphere for big race events. The chance to see K-Pop music stars live brings out locals that wouldn’t normally watch horse racing. The KRA has also added theme park rides to the infield of racecourses to make it a family-friendly environment.

South Korea’s most popular horse races

South Korea has two premier horse races that attract the eyes of the nation. The races hold the same prestige as the Grand National and Cheltenham Festival in England or the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes in the United States.

The Korea Cup and the Korea Sprint are the country’s most famous races. The races are both held at the country’s top racecourse, the LetsRun Park in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi-do. Both events take place in September with horses over three-years old competing for the illustrious trophies and prize money.

The Korea Cup has a large prize purse of nearly $900,000. The Korea Sprint offers a similar large prize purse with $626,000 up for grabs for the runners.

In 2018, nine different nations were represented during the Korea Autumn Racing Carnival. It is the annual carnival that hosts both the Korea Cup and the Korea Sprint. Horses and race teams from the USA, United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Hong Kong, Singapore, United Arab Emirates, and Japan all participated at the carnival.

Race days in South Korea are fun-filled days that are more than just watching horse racing. While they may not have the pomp and circumstance of top races in England and the US, they offer locals something special. The Korean Cup and Korea Sprint also provide large prize purses to competitors.