Hong Kong’s season ended at Happy Valley on Wednesday with turnover of HK$1.6 billion (£160 million), a new record for a fixture at the iconic city-side venue.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has faced some challenges this term, with the uncertainty of the ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic and issues related to demonstrations in the city, which caused significant traffic disruptions to customers and staff, and had a significant impact on attendance.
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, chief executive officer at the HKJC said: “While we recognise that the coronavirus situation is an ongoing battle and we must remain vigilant, I can say that it has been heartening to see the Hong Kong community pull together and play a crucial part in combating its effects; the Hong Kong Jockey Club has been quick to reflect and enact those safeguarding measures and policies while continuing to race.
“We are pleased to have been able to complete a full season but of course our prime focus throughout, and a real challenge, was to act responsibly to protect the public health and safety of our staff, customers and the wider community, at every turn, while at the same time balancing that with the desire for our sport to continue.”
Hong Kong’s total racing turnover in the 2019-20 season was HK$121.6 billion (£12.2 billion), a reduction of 2.6 per cent on the previous season.
However, it was still the third-highest ever despite Covid-19’s impact on domestic wagering in Hong Kong, which saw an 8.3 per cent drop as off-course betting branches were closed or operating on reduced opening from early February, while fans were unable to attend the racecourse for almost half the season.
Engelbrecht-Bresges said: “Our overall season’s racing turnover of more than HK$121 billion is pleasing in light of the significant challenges as it only reduced by 2.6 per cent. Commingling continues to be a huge growth area for the Club.
“We are pleased with how popular our simulcasts are with Hong Kong customers and we are keen to do more.
“Furthermore, we are pleased with how much interest our customers have in our simulcast programmes from the leading race meetings around the world. We saw this even more in the second World Pool at Royal Ascot, which proved a huge success – with individual race turnover up by more than 49 per cent on 2019 – and we look forward to expanding the World Pool concept next season, with Hong Kong as a vital hub for global wagering.”