The bold adventure into the uncharted waters of soccer betting has given the Jockey Club some new expertise that can be put to creative use in racing. As a result of engaging some of the best-available fixed-odds wagering consultants from around the world for its new soccer arm, the Jockey Club is now firmly entrenched in the business of fixed-odds wagering, as distinct from the all-totalisator system that services racing. Now that it has acquired the expertise to frame markets and sell punters fixed-odds contracts, why not take the next logical step and start creating fixed-odds betting on feature races? The four Hong Kong international races in December would be the obvious launching point for such a project, and it would be guaranteed to stimulate enormous interest and discussion, both at home and abroad. When this was first tried in New Zealand - another all-tote racing jurisdiction - about six years ago, the prevailing fear was that the fixed-odds market would cannibalise the normal totalisator revenue. But the progressive TAB regime at the time, under the leadership of the visionary George Hickton, was able to prevail and the concept was introduced with great success. 'Success' is an understatement. Not only did fears of fixed-odds betting detracting from tote betting prove groundless, the opposite occurred. Hickton was delighted to tell the press that the totalisator betting on that launch event, the Group One Kelt Capital Stakes at Hastings, was up 140 per cent on the corresponding event 12 months earlier. That's right - 140 per cent. It was a pattern that held true for all the feature events that were to follow. When fixed-odds betting was offered over two or three weeks preceding the big races, the tote turnover (without counting the fixed-odds holdings) was up over 100 per cent. What happens in New Zealand, and other countries of similar persuasion, is that the TAB keeps the racing journalists well informed about betting moves, sizeable bets and market adjustments, almost daily. Every story effectively becomes another piece of feature race promotion. By the time the big race comes around, the public is so well informed about the race, and their interest so primed, that they can't wait to have a bet. It could be exactly the recipe the Jockey Club is looking for to fuel betting interest in the four international races, which have so far been the four poorest turnover events on the biggest day of the year in Hong Kong racing. The situation is that local punters tend to shy away from the overseas form in favour of 'the devil they know'. Fixed-odds betting on these races, starting (say) three weeks beforehand, could be just what the doctor ordered.