On The Rails
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2014, 9:41pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 April, 2014, 10:55am

Commingling with US is simply a branding exercise

Although the hurdles have been vast, Hong Kong punters won't notice too many differences, if any, as a new era is ushered in


Alan Aitken has worked in all facets of the media and was the master of the famous AJC Punters Podium at Sydney racecourses for many years. He was one of Australia's most respected racing journalists over almost two decades with The Sydney Morning Herald before joining SCMP in 2001. Alan also has extensive magazine and radio experience and is a respected racing form analyst.

The word commingling, in its association with horse race betting, seems to have appeared in this paper as long ago as mid-2004, so the announcement that it's all go for a start on the weekend hardly has the look of undue haste about it.

In the meantime, there have been hurdles to make Becher's Brook look like a step-over, and Hong Kong lost ground on this front as a plethora of other racing jurisdictions, unhindered by the same regulatory problems, got on with it.

The reality has always been that commingling without Hong Kong could never realise its potential, though, so the commencement of a relationship with the United States is very significant.

It won't be the first time the Jockey Club has commingled. There was that little arrangement with Macau for a while, which was significant for its insignificance - it disappeared off the radar after somebody in Macau left the technology in a cab or the dog ate it.

What can we expect to notice that is different under commingling? Well, nothing
Alan Aitken

What can we expect to notice that is different under commingling? Well, nothing. Over time, there will be mild pool increases from the US bets but the effect would be microscopic compared to the impact of that money trickling over from the mainland. For one thing, the races will still be shown in homes in the US at early morning, late night and breakfast times rather than in prime time, and there's just no getting around that.

Even by the Jockey Club's own estimates, the entire amount currently bet around the world in legal, foreign pools on Hong Kong races would amount to only about 3 per cent of what the club holds (any transfer from illegal operations would be another matter).

Will it make the Jockey Club stronger or richer? No. Bets are taxed where they are placed in the source country before being transferred into Hong Kong pools, so that end is where the earning takes place.

So this, ultimately, is an exercise in standardising dividends and branding - the chance to expose horse players in another country to what is as good a racing product as any on the planet. With all those things that are missing from some older jurisdictions - not just turnover and field size but tight, central control and a good degree of transparency.

If there's a commingling benefit we might hope to see, one day, we have to hope that it could be the revival of the Triple Trio. Once bettors become familiar with Hong Kong racing, it would be nice to think that they will be offered something outside the standard wagers.


Send to a friend

To forward this article using your default email client (e.g. Outlook), click here.

Enter multiple addresses separated by commas(,)

More on this story