It's time to loosen up ownership regulations

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 April, 2007, 12:00am

The Jockey Club is always looking at ways of increasing the involvement of Hongkongers in the entrancing world of racehorse ownership, yet it has kept one obvious outlet closed off.

When an owner is successful in getting a permit, he (or she or they) must be the owners who acquire and ultimately race the horse. Under the rules, any partnership must be formed prior to applying for a permit.

As the popular television physicist Julius Sumner-Miller was so fond of saying, why is it so?

What would be wrong with an owner, who is successful in having a permit issued to him, inviting one or more of his Jockey Club member friends, who may have missed out in the permit ballot, to join him as a partner in the new venture?

Loosening up the ownership regulations would have a lot of positives. It would enable more people to come into the ownership realm more quickly and enable the really committed ones to have a greater level of involvement. It would be a bonus to the club, because it would help drive the quality agenda by boosting the spending power available for any given horse. It would also generate an interesting secondary market for horses, and that would be a good thing. For example, what would have been wrong with the Chan family selling down, say, a 49 per cent interest in Floral Pegasus after the colt made his debut?

The Chans could have legitimately recouped their entire investment in the horse and had the handsome chestnut running for free for the rest of his days. The new owner would have received a quick return on his outlay, the club would have had more owners and therefore further stimulated a critical (and big spending) sector of their customer base. If there are any negatives to the concept, they certainly aren't obvious. So let's take the advice of the late John F. Kennedy, to not just see things as they are and ask why, but to see things that never were and ask 'why not?'.