Hong Kong passes the flag to India as historic Asian Racing Conference closes with announcement of HKJC CEO as new Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation
In a dazzling closing ceremony at Sha Tin tonight, 8 May, the hugely successful 35th Asian Racing Conference (ARC), hosted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, concluded. Beginning with an opening ceremony and gala dinner on Monday, 5 May, the conference welcomed a record number of almost 800 delegates to four days of meetings, business sessions and other events, including an evening at Happy Valley racecourse to witness the Asian Racing Federation (ARF) Trophy race.
ARF Chairman, Dr Koji Sato, presiding over his final ARC in his current role, thanked the hosts for a memorable week. “On behalf of my Executive Council, I would like to thank our host, Mr Brian Stevenson, Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges and the 35th ARC Organising Committee, and the entire staff of the Hong Kong Jockey Club for providing us with the opportunity to gather here in Hong Kong.”
After thanking all the speakers and presenters for their invaluable input, Dr Sato continued: “This has been a tremendous conference with 15 different sessions, all very important to bring racing to new heights. If any conclusion can be drawn from this Conference, it would be to identify the means by which we can create greater economic value and protect the integrity of the sport we love.”
Welcoming delegates and guests from all over the world to the final event of the conference, the Chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Mr T Brian Stevenson, said: “It's really been quite wonderful for all of us at the Hong Kong Jockey Club to play host to the world's largest and most important racing conference and to offer you our warmest hospitality over these past few days.”
Mr Stevenson added: “There has been a very real sense that this week's presentations have been geared towards material that has real practical applicability across the range of countries who are represented here.
“Greater international collaboration is clearly a must for the racing industry to maintain its competitiveness and popular appeal in the face of so many other competing forms of gaming and entertainment today. I believe we can achieve that,” he said.
On behalf of the host city and the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Mr Stevenson thanked everyone for their attendance, their support and their contributions to the success of this event. Those present then enjoyed an evening of entertainment, featuring an exciting mix of music, dance and acrobatics.
Also at tonight’s event, Mr Andrew Harding, Secretary-General of the ARF, announced that Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges will succeed Dr Sato as Chairman of the organisation. Taking up the role as Chairman of the ARF, this will be a second term of office for Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges, who was previously ARF Chairman from 2007 to 2009. His term begins with immediate effect. Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges is also Vice-Chairman of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.
“I feel very honoured to take office as the Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation and I would like to thank my colleagues for the great support and trust they have put in me,” he said. “Racing has a major challenge ahead but I feel that the ARF has always taken great leadership in meeting such challenges, and I’m confident that with the great teamwork we have on the ARF Council we will manage these challenges.”
Mr Engelbrecht-Bresges warmly thanked outgoing Chairman Dr Sato, saying: “I want to acknowledge my friend, my dear colleague Dr Koji Sato for his tremendous leadership as Chairman of the ARF. The great thing with Dr Sato, or I would call him my friend Koji, is that he has this wonderful knowledge he has gained as one of the finest racing administrators in Japan. He brought his own personal brand into the ARC and ARF, which is wisdom and diplomacy.”
The final act of the 35th ARC was the official handover of the Asian Racing Federation flag to the host of the 36th ARC, India, which will hold the event in Mumbai in early 2016.