Jockey Club reveals season turnover high with one meeting left

Jockey Club reveals season turnover high of more than HK$92b with one meeting left

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 5:01am

There was rain, there was the fact that racing continues on Wednesday and Sha Tin's finale just didn't have its usual energy, no matter how many soft toys were hurled to the fans, but the afternoon still produced a landmark as betting finally set a new record 16 years after the previous one.

The high-water mark for turnover came in 1996-97 at HK$92 billion before a decade of post-handover decline, but the resurgence since betting duty reforms in 2006 has seen the numbers back on an upward trajectory and chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges said a new record will be set this term.

"We will deliver the full figures after Happy Valley, but we have already topped HK$92 billion for the season - an increase of nine per cent - and I'm sure we will put a smile on every face in the government, which will receive a HK$1 billion increase [in duty]," he said.

We will deliver the full figures after Happy Valley, but we have already topped HK$92 billion for the season ... and I'm sure we will put a smile on every face in the government

Deteriorating weather kept fans at home - attendance down 30,000 on last year's figure - but the gongs were handed out for everything but a nail-biting trainers' championship and the season's Most Improved award.

Triple Group One winner and one of the heroes of Singapore, Military Attack, was named Horse Of The Year as well as the Most Popular Horse and the Champion Middle Distance galloper and trainer John Moore said he'd have been surprised at anything else. "Two international races, one overseas, and another Group One race at home? Not many horses have ever had better seasons than that here so I think he was a worthy winner."

The other awards went with the script as Lucky Nine (Sprinter) and Ambitious Dragon (Miler) took divisions, while California Memory (Stayer) claimed just his first Champion Award in a glittering career.

Douglas Whyte had a winning treble on the track to give him 100 wins, he was voted Most Popular Jockey by the racing public and a lead of 13 over Zac Purton with only nine races left even saw the Durban Demon prepared to call it for his 13th successive championship - possibly a modern world record on the flat. And he had a few things to say about his arch-rival, Purton.

"I think the turning point was when Zac threw out a few chirps and that really motivated me," Whyte said. "He probably thought he was home and dry but I found another gear."

Australian sprinter Black Caviar was again the Most Admired Overseas Horse, while Dicky Lui Cheuk-ying took out the apprentice riders' title in his first season.

What were left unresolved were the season's final numbers, the trainers' championship and the Most Improved Award - with Solar Great probably still clubhouse leader despite his defeat by All You Wish in the final race.

Most interest remains in the trainers' title. Caspar Fownes dropped out last week, John Size followed yesterday, barring a miracle, and now Dennis Yip Chor-hong leads Tony Cruz by two with nine to play.