Jockey Club chief defends meeting's clash with Sevens
Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges yesterday declared reports of his absence from Sha Tin on Sunday to have been wrong, and defended the club staging its race meeting to clash with the Rugby Sevens finale.
Reigning champion trainer John Moore asked the question why racing was not conducted on Saturday, allowing racing people who were also Sevens fans - including himself - to attend the final day at the rugby, and aired his view that the simulcast of a Group One race from Japan, without any Hong Kong involvement, was not a strong reason.
Moore commented that neither Engelbrecht-Bresges nor Jockey Club chairman Brian Stevenson, who is also Hong Kong's rugby chairman, were at Sha Tin.
'I'm pretty sure I was there and I seem to remember being there for everyone to see at the presentation for the cup race,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said yesterday.
He said the Jockey Club had been required to commit to its simulcast of the Takamatsunomiya Kinen well in advance.
'Under the regulations of our agreement, we are only permitted a certain number of simulcasts on non-racing days, we submit our choice of dates well in advance and those are days when we see multiple races worth simulcasting, not just one, as on Sunday.
We can change two or three months before but we only know if Hong Kong horses are running two or three weeks beforehand.
'Looking at the prize money for the Takamatsunomiya Kinen, and that it is a leg of the Global Sprint Challenge, we considered it a possibility that trainers here might consider it a better option than Dubai, so we committed to simulcasting it. I'm sure if a Hong Kong horse ran there and it wasn't simulcast, people would have demanded to know why not.'
Engelbrecht-Bresges also queried the extent of the cross-over audience.
'No racing on the weekend is not an option and we clash with the rugby either day. We have an overlapping customer base with the Sevens of maybe 50,000 to 100,000 people and, in this era, people can do both,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said.
'I would also like to go to the rugby, it's a fabulous event, but we had one million active racing customers on Sunday, and that has to be our main focus. If John Moore wants to go to the rugby instead of the races, there are no constraints on him. All he has to do is explain to his owners that it is what he would prefer to do.'