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ISTANBUL Asian Racing Conference bridges Worlds - By Vivek Jain

Posted on - 24 Jul 2012

By Vivek Jain
The 34th Asian Racing Conference held in the gorgeous city of Istanbul, literally bridged worlds, just as the city bridges Europe and Asia!
The four day Congress last week was represented by 36 nations, of which 23 were members of the Asian Delegation. From Argentina to Japan, the breadth of the world was present, mostly  the heads of various racing clubs and entities connected with the industry. India had an over 20 strong delegation, including the Chairmen of HRC, BTC, RWITC and Mysore Race Club to drive home the message that India was a growing force in Asian Racing. The delegation was led by the veteran Surinder Reddy, who carried the Indian flag at the opening ceremony. Representing the breeding industry were the Poonawalla brothers- Cyrus and Zavaray. I would put the total attendance at about 700.
A grand show was put up by the President of the Jockey Club of Turkey, Omer Faruk Girgin, ably assisted by the dynamic Secretary General of the ARC, Andrew Harding. India, who became an official member in 1961, is bidding to host the ARC in 2016 or 2018, with the venue for the 35th Conference being Hong Kong, in early May, where racing is flourishing.
There were six plenary sessions over four packed days, and unlike what I expected, the Grand Ball Room at the Swissotel was pretty much packed the whole day. Such eminent personalities in the racing world as Dr Kaji Sato, President of the ARC,  James Gagliano, President and CEO of the Jockey Club, USA; Rob de Kock, ex Chie Executive, National Horseracing Authority, South Africa; Christiane Head-Maarek, champion lady trainer in France; Les Carlyon, author of True Grit; Richard Cheung, Executive Director, HKJC; Henry Birtles, TV Broadcasting expert; Ian Mackay, CEO, Australian Turf Club; Dale Monteith, CEO Victoria Racing Club; Louis Romanet, Chairman IHFA; Brian Kavanagh, CEO, Horse Racing, Ireland, were amongst the distinguished array of speakers.
I had the privilege to make a 20 minute presentation on Indian racing, with the emphasis on promotion of the sport. It was heartening to hear the positive feedback, more so, as we are pretty much unrecognized in Asia, and of the plaudits we got at  our myriad efforts at marketing and promoting the sport. Our DVD was watched with rapt attention, and it was good to see India, and the RWITC, share the spotlight with  giants such as Hong Kong Jockey Club and Japan, for example.
Presentation subjects as “the race for the digitally empowered consumer”, “reform and rules in the 21st century”, “building bridges to a broader audience”, “new concepts in racing and wagering” all gave a rare insight into the growing dominance of digital advances, social media and the strong emphasis on promotion and going beyond just racing to promote the sport. Sessions on Stewarding and veterinary issues showed the differences that continue to exist in various jurisdictions and the necessity for greater unity.
The evening functions included a trip to Velienfendi Race Course with seven featured races; a Bosphorous cruise with dinner at a Club on the river that separates Europe and Asia and a classy closing at the stunning Ciragan Palace with Turkish cuisine and entertainment on the opening day of Ramadan. Quite a setting!

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