39th Asian Racing Conference opens in Melbourne

The 39th Asian Racing Conference (ARC) had its official opening during a ceremony in Melbourne on Tuesday, 14 February, marking the fifth time Australia has hosted the event since the first ARC in 1960.

Delayed by a year because of the COVID pandemic, the 39th ARC began with a ceremony at Crown Palladium in Melbourne where Asian Racing Federation (ARF) Chairman and Hong Kong Jockey Club Chief Executive Officer Mr. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges welcomed approximately 700 guests from 35 countries.

Delivering the opening address to the three-day Conference (15 – 17 February), Mr. Englebrecht-Bresges said: “We are delighted with the exceptionally strong turnout for the conference and look forward to our three-day Business Programme beginning tomorrow (Wednesday, 15 February). The ARF has worked very closely with our host, Racing Victoria, to curate an excellent business and social programme, which will ensure that the 39th ARC continues to build on the strong foundation of previous conferences.”

The Melbourne conference theme - Breaking Barriers - features a dynamic and highly interactive three-day programme of guest speakers from around the globe who will examine critical issues including the evolving racing and wagering landscape, fan engagement, integrity, horse ownership, equine and human welfare, and will extend further to explore climate change and sustainability and technological disruptors.

 “We have assembled an excellent line up of speakers including senior administrators, elite athletes and key stakeholders in racing and world sports, as well as global leaders who are paving new paths across disruptive technologies, business, entertainment, investigative practices and academia,” Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges said.

“We will look to identify the barriers to a better future for our sport and how we will break them to the benefit of the many generations of racing fans to come.”

Marking the first ARC since Cape Town in 2020, the 39th ARC features 11 sessions with keynote speakers from all over the world from a broad range of fields. On 14 February (Tuesday), several key bureau meetings were held, including the ARF Executive Council, ARF General Assembly, International Stewards’ Conference, Asian Pattern Committee, Asian and Oceania Stud Book Committee, and the International Forum for the Aftercare of Racehorses. In a ringing endorsement of his strong leadership of the ARF, Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges was unanimously re-elected as ARF Chairman by the Executive Council, a position he has held for more than 10 years.

Mr. Engelbrecht-Bresges opened the first session on 15 February (Wednesday) with a welcome address and a presentation of The Landscape in a scene-setting delivery which focused on the major challenges and opportunities facing racing, both currently and in the future.

Mr. Andrew Harding, Secretary General, Asian Racing Federation and Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director, Racing; Mr. Michael Fitzsimons, Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Director, Wagering Products; Dr. Chris Riggs, Hong Kong Jockey Club Equine Welfare Research Foundation Director and Chief Advisor, Mainland Veterinary Engagement; Mr. Doug Robinson, Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Manager, Due Diligence and Research and Mr. Tom Chignell, Hong Kong Jockey Club Executive Manager, Racing Integrity and Betting Analysis all played prominent roles across the business programme.

The ARC was first held in Tokyo in 1960 and, with almost 700 attendees, is now the largest horseracing industry conference in the world.