EB on racing 'The real value of the club undoubtedly lies in the racing side. The addition of soccer [betting] was essential and, in my new role, I will absolutely embrace this. 'But the challenge is to keep racing on level terms, because in recent years horse racing - worldwide, and not just in Hong Kong - has lost a lot of its turnover and market share. Initiatives like our new Racing Club are aimed at fostering people with a racing interest. 'We will create a community for people who have this genuine interest and love of racing. The Racing Club will race some horses itself and we expect this will foster interest in future racehorse ownership and full Jockey Club membership. 'The days of racing being the only game in town are gone. We must respond to competition for the entertainment and the gambling dollar and one of the ways we will do that is by enhancing the racing experience itself.' EB on children at the races 'This is going to become a subject of growing importance because I can tell you, there are many owners who want to be able to bring their children to the races to watch their horses win a race and be in the photo afterwards. 'Is it reasonable that a 10-year-old can go with their parents to the stables to see their horse, pat their horse and feed him a carrot, and maybe even see the horse as his best friend, but then on race days the child must stay home and watch the race on television because he is not allowed on to a racecourse as being someone under 18? 'There is a growing number of owners who see this as unreasonable and they want something done about it. Remember, these are Jockey Club members and racehorse owners who have chosen this as their hobby, and often with a lot of passion. 'They love horses and they love the theatre and competition of racing. But they want this to be a family activity, not one that separates the family on a day when they should be together and enjoying what is truly a great sport and, in victory, an unforgettable moment. 'I noted what our chairman [John Chan Cho-chak] said about children being given access to the infield. I would love to see the infield [Penfold Park] at Sha Tin become a permanent family area, where children can come and have fun on a race day, with lots of activities but where there are no gambling facilities.' EB on betting reforms 'We are now in the first stages of the roll-out of the rebates [on losing bets of HK$10,000 or more] and we are delighted to see this is having a very positive impact. One of the next things we will be able to look at is some new bet types, but I don't want to foreshadow exactly what they might be. 'The most important thing with the experience so far is that we have proved conclusively that the betting product is very price sensitive, and this should be a lesson to all concerned - that when governments want to put up betting taxes because they want more revenue, turnover will certainly go down. When they do this, they are playing with fire.' And the possibility of extending the rebates down to medium-level players as well? On this issue, the CEO-designate plays with a far straighter bat. 'The question is how to go to the next step and here again we must be mindful of the system. If this was being run on a normal business model we would definitely be more aggressive.' EB on the customers 'We have to do everything possible to continue to improve our customer service. After all, the customer is the one who drives our business. 'This is why I am very particular about accurately identifying our various market segments and differentiating between them. A racegoer in his 60s, for example, is going to have different needs and expectations for his day at the races than a 20-year-old. 'We have already done a lot of work over the past two years, looking at the owners, the members and the public and the various segments within those groups. 'The beer garden at Happy Valley was born out of this customer differentiation. We identified a group of young people who were interested to come racing mainly for the social benefits. Although there were strong reservations expressed by others in the club in the early stages, the beer garden has been a real growth area and a very successful promotion.' Two customer segments which will be receiving some fresh attention will be the higher volume players and international customers, who it is hoped will eventually bet into Hong Kong's huge pools through their domestic betting agencies. The days where big punters have their own designated account director, who will treat them like the important customers they truly are, may not be far off. EB on China 'We have taken a significant step in China with the creation of our Beijing clubhouse. There are more and more of our members travelling to the capital these days and the Beijing clubhouse will provide a valuable extension of membership services in this respect.' Engelbrecht-Bresges has noted the recent story that the central government is prepared to discuss the creation of a horse-racing lottery, based on results of racing in Wuhan, by 2008. 'It is not for me to say whether this will or will not happen, or speculate on the timeframe,' he says, choosing his words carefully. 'All I can say is that if the time comes where the central government wants to look at the success of our business model in horse racing, where we can channel illegal betting into a legal and well-managed business, gaining significant tax for government, giving entertainment to thousands of people and with all profits going to the community, then we would be honoured to help advise them in any way we could. 'In the meantime, the clubhouse in Beijing gives us a presence in the capital as an organisation. 'It shows our commitment to and our desire to develop closer ties with the central government.' EB on the Olympics 'It has to be remembered, we are really just the venue provider and not the organiser. Due to our significant resources and know-how, we will be able to play a role in advising the games management company and the government about what we think should be done - but in the end, they are the ones who organise it. 'However, I think the equestrian events of the 2008 Olympics provide a unique chance for Hong Kong to show our can-do attitude. Not many counties would be able to even think about creating these facilities and setting this up at such short notice. 'John Ridley [Jockey Club manager, tracks and equestrian] and his team have done a fantastic job in putting together a feasibility study in record time that has already been endorsed by Bocog and the FEI. Now, we must further strengthen our management team and we will be making a significant announcement in that regard soon.' EB on exporting the HK betting product There's no doubt that having other countries betting on Hong Kong - or 'exporting the product', as he likes to call it, is going to be one of the big growth area in coming years. 'We are already getting HK$120 million a year in royalty and fee income from this area and this is just the beginning.' Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are already betting regularly on Hong Kong racing. There is the possibility of England coming on board, and the United States is also interested in taking the product, which it sees as a significantly superior racing product than its own domestic fare. 'At the time of the handover , when turnover peaked, that was where almost all our income came from. 'Today, we have other streams of income, through royalties and sponsorship. But there's no doubt the biggest new income stream will be from the export of our product.' EB on predecessor Lawrence Wong Chi-kong 'I owe Larry a debt of gratitude because it was he who offered me the job and employed me as director of racing in the first place, back in 1998. 'One of the most important things Larry did, after his appointment as chief executive, was to identify the strengths and weaknesses in his team and then to go out to try to identify the best possible people to recruit for those top positions. And he then gave them the space to use their creativity and do their job properly. 'Another he recruited at that time was Steve Beason, who became executive director of information technology, and Steve's team did some outstanding work in the IT field that has seen us recognised as a world leader in this field. 'Larry was also extremely customer conscious, and the excellent customer service standards that the club is acknowledged for today are the result of all his initiatives and drive in this area.' EB on the December International Races On the day he was announced as having won the race to be the new chief executive, chairman John Chan Cho-chak said a key factor in the decision to appoint him was that the stewards wanted a man of 'global vision'. Nowhere is this more apparent than the success of Hong Kong horses on the world stage and the astonishing growth of the Cathay Pacific International Races. The International Races were already well established when EB arrived at Sports Road eight years ago, but what they've since become has been a breathtaking development from what they were. 'Along with our former chairman, the late Alan Li Fook-sum, we created a five-year-plan that would see the International Races become increasingly more significant,' says Engelbrecht-Bresges. 'Our dream was to make them the turf world championships. 'To make a success of this, it was important that the Hong Kong-based horses were good enough to compete against the best in the world so we created a programme of incentives for Hong Kong owners to upgrade the quality of their horses. 'Today, we see Hong Kong horses recognised as among the best in the world. It started with a Group One win in Japan for Fairy King Prawn in 2000, but in recent years, we have developed internationally recognised champions like Silent Witness, Cape Of Good Hope, Bullish Luck and Vengeance Of Rain. 'This year's International Races promise to be our best ever. We announced entries this week and we have 322 nominations across the four races, with 79 individual Group One winners from all over the world, including 26 of the top 40 horses in the world [as assessed by the World Thoroughbred Rankings]. 'At HK$20 million, the Hong Kong Cup will be the richest race ever run in Hong Kong,' he says.. 'We will be offering record prize money of HK$62 million for these four Group One races, and the change to the Hong Kong Sprint [from 1,000 to 1,200 metres] has been very well received. 'With the Australian champion sprinter Takeover Target already committed to the race - and he'll be clashing with all Europe's top sprinters and Hong Kong's best - the Sprint is a race that already promises to be a truly international event.'