An extraordinary 2022/23 Hong Kong horse racing season ended in style on Sunday, 16 July at Sha Tin Racecourse, with the 88th and final meeting of the season setting a new turnover record for both a single race meeting and the season finale meeting of HK$2.065 billion (approx. £202 million) – an increase of 1.3% year-on-year – since the establishment of the HKSAR in 1997.
In total, the season’s 88 meetings saw 835 Hong Kong races and 299 overseas simulcast races and posted turnover of HK$141.1 billion (approx. £13.8 billion), representing a slight 0.5% increase on the 2021/22 season.
The increasing popularity of the simulcast of overseas races and the increasing appreciation of the global nature of racing contributed to a 12.5% growth in simulcast turnover to over HK$11.8 billion (approx. £1.2 billion).
While the majority of simulcast turnover comes from Hong Kong customers, which registered an 11.3% growth to HK$10.5 billion (approx. £1 billion), turnover generated via World Pool from the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s (HKJC) overseas customers and partners grew by 23% to HK$1.3 billion (approx. £127 million).
The turnover of all simulcast races conducted under the World Pool Brand (including both Hong Kong and overseas customers) increased from HK$6.2 billion (approx. £606 million) in the 2021/22 season to HK$7.3 billion (approx. £714 million), representing a 18.5% increase.
The HKJC have continued to increase the number of World Pool races to 24 days this season featuring many of the LONGINES Top 100 Group 1 races, while also broadening World Pool partnerships to include racing from Australia, Saudi Arabia and Germany for the first time.
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Chief Executive Officer at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, said: “Under such a challenging economic situation, our overall season racing turnover of HK$141.1 billion is very satisfactory. The strength of the turnover reflects the quality of our products and the on-going support of our customers. However, we will stay vigilant as there will be significant challenges from offshore bookmakers following the reopening of borders and also illegal bookmakers.
“To ensure our racing will stay competitive and maintain its world-class status, we will re-invest in racecourse assets and enhance customer experience. We will also grasp the unique development opportunity in the GBA under the ‘One Country Two Systems’ principle. After all, the Club is acting for the betterment of society. All we do is to contribute more to our community with a strategic focus that best meets the needs of Hong Kong people.”
Zac Purton and John Size set new records
The 2022/23 season saw new records set on the track too, with trainer John Size becoming the first trainer to win 12 Hong Kong trainers’ championships. The Australian master trainer has now trained 1493 winners in Hong Kong and continues to excel with an uncanny ability to patiently develop young talent into elite top-level performers.
Zac Purton clinched his sixth Hong Kong jockeys’ championship with a single-season record of 179 wins, breaking Joao Moreira’s previous record of 170.
Home-grown jockey Vincent Ho received the Tony Cruz Award – given to the leading local rider with the most wins in the season – for a fourth time.
With only 1,250 horses in training – or around 0.7 percent of the world’s horse population – Hong Kong’s racing once again displayed its world-class quality in 2022/23.
Golden Sixty, the first horse in the history of Hong Kong racing to have secured three consecutive Horse of the Year crowns, and fellow G1 winners, Lucky Sweynesse and Romantic Warrior, are firmly entrenched in the top seven of the LONGINES World’s Best Racehorse Rankings.
They delivered astounding performances against international rivals in the international spotlight on FWD Champions Day on 30 April 2023 and led a clean sweep of the three Group 1 features of the day – G1 FWD Champions Mile (1600m), G1 Chairman’s Sprint Prize (1200m) and G1 FWD QEII Cup (2000m).
Engelbrecht-Bresges, said: “Hong Kong’s world-class racing is not only built on our state-of-art racing facilities, but more importantly a rich and growing pool of racing talents across all levels from trainers, jockeys, veterinarians to stable assistants and farriers. The Hong Kong Jockey Club is committed to attracting world-class talents from overseas and nurturing high-potential home-grown talents. I am delighted to see our racing talents and the horses they train, and take care of, deliver remarkable performances this season to local and global fans. They are the future of Hong Kong’s racing.”
Development of racing in Mainland China
Another important highlight of the 2022/23 season is that Conghua Racecourse (CRC) has demonstrated its critical role in supporting Hong Kong’s racing as well as the development of the equine industry in the Greater Bay Area.
CRC has fully utilised its state-of-the-art facilities to best accommodate, train and prepare horses to return to Sha Tin and Happy Valley racecourse for racing. In the past season, CRC has produced 172 wins by 138 horses.
Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “The importance of CRC will continue to grow further with the significant work we are undertaking with Sha Tin’s stable refurbishment to meet the future needs of trainers. CRC will also serve as the centre stage of international-standard racing in the Mainland, starting from the first race meeting in 2026 with the establishment of an iconic grandstand enabling visitors from all fronts to enjoy and experience Hong Kong’s world-class racing.”
Hong Kong racing will restart for the 2023/24 season on 10 September.