On the eve of a new season, Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges sounded more farmer than sports administrator yesterday as he looked ahead to reaping what has been carefully sown and again called on government to join the harvest. Commingling moves from concept to reality today, with North American casino punters betting directly into the Jockey Club pools, and Engelbrecht-Bresges agrees that this is a season of promise. 'Racing here has been built by a great deal of hard work into a world-class betting and entertainment product and for us this is the first year when we can really focus on harvesting that,' he said. 'It's a great breakthrough taking bets from America straight into our pools.' 'I believe it will start slowly, but I'm hoping for a tsunami effect that we will see significant turnover coming from outside of Hong Kong. And, hopefully, with this kind of example, we can convince the government of significant opportunities for the Jockey Club, and therefore the government via taxation and for the community as a whole, if we have a freer hand and more flexibility. Going global is a must,' he said. Twelve months ago, it was the introduction of 10 per cent rebates on higher value bets which paved the way for a 6.6 per cent turnover increase for the 2006-07 season, reversing a long-term trend. In the new season, Engelbrecht-Bresges believes that the inertia of that rebate effect added to international commingling can bring another rise despite what he regards as tremendous competition from the Macau casino industry. 'I'm cautiously optimistic even though we face strong competition from Euro 2008 at the other end of the season and despite the fact that people continue to underestimate the threat we face from Macau. We need to step up our loyalty programmes to reward our customers but we have to look at how we can do that - whether it's in pricing or other incentives we can offer - to keep our loyal customers in Hong Kong,' he said. 'I have factored all that into my prediction of another 4 or 5 per cent rise in turnover if the economy can stay like it is - but hopefully with fewer roller-coaster rides in the stock market.' Engelbrecht-Bresges said the Jockey Club had further commingling in the works, and would be unveiling a grand new plan mid-season. 'In January, we will present our new vision of the Hong Kong Jockey Club - in facilities, in products, in every aspect of our business - and I think that through the season we will continue to build momentum,' he said. 'Definitely we are well advanced in discussion with the United Kingdom on commingling. 'We also know there is significant interest in Australia and New Zealand, though under the current double taxation situation it would be practically impossible to make it work financially. We hope commingling with the USA can demonstrate how much potential the concept has,' he said. Engelbrecht-Bresges said a full review of the effects of the 10 per cent rebate is under way and a plan to build on the initiative is expected to be formulated by next month.