WHILE local racing fans are still reeling from Phumelela’s ominous SENS announcement on Friday, financial results from other racing jurisdictions are similary worrying, even figures released by the mighty Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Betting turnover on racing in the reigion plunged HK$1.6 billion from the start of March until the end of June, virtually falling off a cliff after more than a decade of enormous growth.

Racing turnover more than doubled from 2005-06 (HK$60 billion) to 2017-18 (HK$124 billion), so the sudden dip has many espousing theories about what has gone wrong.

“It is probably a long story to explain what has happened,” Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges commeted. “It is complex – from competition, from product, from customer segments, the com­mingling, the illegal market – it has to be a holistic discussion.

“You need turnover for the long-term sustainability of the sport. We knew when we did our budget [for this season] that there would likely be a correction. [We were facing some] difficult challenges.”

Turnover is the lifeblood of racing – it single-handedly supports the industry, enabling the Jockey Club to be the highest taxpayer in Hong Kong while also being a major charity donor. Without it, everyone suffers.

-Original report in South China Morning Post.