The Hong Kong Jockey Club has "no intention of becoming directly involved" in Mongolia's plans to set up a professional horse racing league and legalise betting.
HKJC chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges yesterday played down a report quoting a Mongolian government minister as saying the nation wanted to establish a "jockey club operation".
"It is very good that another associate member of the Asian Racing Federation is considering developing horse racing," Engelbrecht-Bresges said. "The ARF will offer its help but the HKJC has no intention of becoming directly involved.
"I can say categorically there has been no contact with the HKJC from Mongolia regarding Hong Kong horses racing there, but we will have a chance to talk at the Asian Racing Conference [in Hong Kong] next week."
Oyungerel Tsedevdamba, the minister for culture, sport and tourism, said, according to a Bloomberg report: "Our priority is to make the legal environment for a jockey club operation so that we can have a market share" of the Asian gambling business.
Oyungerel added that she hoped to submit a draft to parliament within three months. "Our law is heavily based on Hong Kong Jockey Club rules."
Oyungerel said one law would legalise online gambling and lotteries. Another would allow horse race betting and jockey clubs.
Oyungerel said Ulan Bator was keen to use Hong Kong jockeys and horses in the off-season, adding that more than 50 trainers from Mongolia would visit Hong Kong to study the business.
Engelbrecht-Bresges said: "Horses racing in Hong Kong are the property of their owners, not the HKJC … and it would be up to the owner to weigh the value of the proposition of racing in Mongolia instead.
"As a club, we would prefer horses not go to race in Mongolia as we maintain a horse population sufficient for our industry and participation elsewhere would place a strain on our horse population."
Wagering on horse races might give Mongolia access to the Chinese gambling market that has made Macau the world's biggest gambling hub.
Mongolia wants to build a racetrack near the site where it is building a new airport, 54 kilometres south of the capital.
Oyungerel represented a district of Ulan Bator that was home to many young jockeys, she said. "I see their future in the horse business and I would like to provide a viable business for today's horse boys."