34th Asian Racing Conference
par Verbiest Thibault
The Asian Racing Conference was established in 1960 on the initiative of Count Todamasa Sakai, President of the Japan Racing Association and Mr U Chit Khine of the Rangoon Turf Club. It was renamed at the 28th Conference in 2001 and became the Asian Racing Federation.
As a result the first meeting of what has now come to be recognised as one of the major international racing conferences in the world of thoroughbred horseracing, took place in Tokyo in May 1960 when 69 delegates took part.
The founding member countries were Burma, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaya, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. India would have been included but a delegation from that country was unavoidably unable to attend. While Hong Kong is listed as a founding member of the Federation, local racing in those days was conducted on an amateur basis and after the first two Conferences a Hong Kong delegation was not represented again until the 10th Conference in Melbourne in 1972 by which time a professional racing operation had been set up in the colony, as it then was, and Hong Kong then became an official member.
Since those early days the Federation has continued to expand, both in the number of delegates attending and in the size of the geographical area covered.
At the 2nd Conference in 1961, Australia, India, New Zealand and Sarawak became official members; at the 9th Conference (1970) Korea and Turkey joined; at the 11th (1973) Indonesia and Pakistan; at the 16th (1982) Bahrain; at the 22nd (1991) Macau; at the 23rd (1993) South Africa; at the 24th (1995) the United Arab Emirates; at the 25th Conference (1997) Mauritius; and at the 26th Conference (1999) Saudi Arabia; and at the 27th Conference (2000) Oman; and at the 28th Conference (2001)Qatar.
The objectives of the Federation have remained similar to those drawn up by Count Sakai and Mr Khine. The objectives of the ARF are:
- To meet and foster goodwill and mutual understanding through the medium of periodic conferences and other racing events in the member countries.
- To promote horseracing and breeding and the integrity and prestige thereof by any means that the Federation shall consider appropriate and which are in compliance with all existing laws, rules and regulations.
- To encourage and develop mutually beneficial objectives and strategies between racing organisations without discrimination to aid the development of horseracing.
- To exchange ideas and information on matters connected with horseracing.
- To encourage, promote and support international competition for jockeys and horses when conditions permit.
The Federation now meets approximately every 12 to 18 months.
A central Secretariat and an Executive Council was established in 1992. The Secretariat is currently based in Australia and is staffed and funded courtesy of the Australian Racing Board while the Council, which directs the work of the Secretariat, is composed of representatives from Australia, Hong Kong, India, Japan, New Zealand and the country appointed host for the next Conference.
Mr David Bourke, Chairman of the Victoria Racing Club, was Chairman of the Council from its establishment in 1992 until 1997 when he handed over to Mr Murray Acklin, President of New Zealand Racing Thoroughbred Inc.
In 2001 the ARF Charter was amended to establish two Vice-Chairman positions on the Executive Council and Dr Imahara of the Japan Racing Association and Dr Larry Wong of the Hong Kong Jockey Club were appointed to these posts.
In 2003 Dr Larry Wong was elected Chairman of the Council with Dr Naoki Koike and Mr Robert Charley AO appointed as Vice Chairmen.
In 2007 Mr Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges was elected Chairman of the Council with Dr Isamu Takizawa and Dr Cyrus Poonawalla appointed as Vice-Chairmen.
In 2009 Dr Koji Sato was elected ARF Chairman, with Guy Sargent serving as Vice-Chairman.
In 2010 the Executive Council was expanded to include Singapore, South Africa and the UAE.
The Executive Council meets approximately four times a year. Australia, Hong Kong and Japanhave permanent seats on the Executive Committee of the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities. The ARF Secretary-General also acts as a permanent technical advisor at meetings of the IFHA Executive Council.