The number of World Pool race days has been expanded from 21 to 25, with new additions in Australia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Ireland.
Targeting enhanced global visibility for the World Pools, and by extension greater financial support for horse racing, the new fixtures increase the number of meetings from 21 to 25.
These are the Australia’s Lightning Stakes Day, The Saudi Cup, South Africa’s Met Day and the Irish Derby, whilst last year’s ‘World Pool Moment of the Year’ concept has been extended to all 25 days.
Set up by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) and operated in partnership with other parimutuel betting operators such as the UK Tote Group, the World Pool functions as a global community for tote betting.
“We were absolutely thrilled with the results from our 21 World Pool meetings in 2022 and are excited to be extending that offering to 25 days this year,” said Michael Fitzsimons, HKJC Executive Director of Wagering Products.
“Having Australia and Saudi Arabia on the fixture list of 2023 World Pool meetings is another important step in the globalisation of World Pool, while adding some high-profile British and Irish meetings to the schedule is another exciting advancement.
“To complement our expanding list of World Pool meetings are the Moment of the Day and Moment of the Year initiatives, which for the first time will reward winning stable staff from all countries hosting World Pool races.
“Last year’s launch of the competition in the UK and Ireland was met with great feedback from yards across the region and we look forward to opening that up to our World Pool days in South Africa, Australia, Saudi Arabia and Dubai.”
The updated schedule will begin with Met Day at South Africa’s Kenilworth racecourse on 28 January, followed by the Lightning Stakes Day at Melbourne’s Flemington on 18 February and the Saudi Cup in Riyadh on 25 February.
In the UK and Ireland, one World Pool day has been added in both countries – the Lockinge Stakes Day on 20 May in the former, and the Irish Derby Day on 2 July in the latter.
In a further international boost for the Pool, Germany’s Deutsches Derby at Hamburg-Horn will be included in coverage of the Irish Derby Day, marking the first World Pool raceday in the country.
By expanding its international scope, the World Pool aims to capitalise on the successes of last year, which saw turnover hit a new high of HK$6bn (£622m), up from HK$4.8bn (£498m) in 2021.
The UK’s Epsom Derby Day recorded the single highest turnover in one day at HK$66.1m (£6.8m), whilst as Frost noted, UK and Ireland-wide turnover for the pool hit £521m.
Alex Frost, Chief Executive of the UK Tote Group, remarked: “We are looking forward to another World Pool season which now extends its reach across eight countries worldwide.
“For the UK and Ireland, it is welcome to see new additions to this year’s schedule, with two races from Newbury’s Lockinge Day added, along with Irish Derby Day, taking World Pool events hosted in the UK and Ireland to a total of 18.”
In addition to expanding the fixtures list, the ‘World Pool Moment of the Year’ concept has been extended to all 25 days, having been initially rolled out in the UK and Ireland last year.
Targeting growth for the sport, the HKJC, UK Tote Group, Racecourse Media Group (RMG) and Ascot Racecourse invested HK$1m (£103,000) as a prize for ‘Moment of the Year’ winning stable staff.
Martin Stevenson, CEO of RMG, said: “RMG is delighted to partner with Hong Kong Jockey Club, UK Tote and our racecourses to bring 11 high-quality British and Irish days to the innovative and important World Pool schedule.
“RMG looks forward to working with all the parties in growing both the sport’s revenues and global appeal. We’re also excited to see the World Pool Moment of the Day and Year awards increase in prize money and evolve into a global initiative for stable staff – the real unsung heroes of our sport.”
In an interview with SBC last year, the UK Tote Group’s B2C and Liquidity Director, Jamie Hart, highlighted the World Pool as one a key innovation supporting and driving growth for international horse racing.
Alex Frost expanded on this in an interview with SBC Leaders where he discussed how the Pool plays into a much-needed strategy for horse racing to ensure the future of the sport.
Commenting on the expansion of the World Pool days, Ascot Acting CEO Alaistair Wariwck added: “It’s fantastic to see this truly global expansion of the meetings included in the World Pool for 2023.
“The continued growth of World Pool since launching at Royal Ascot in 2019 has been very impressive and hugely important for British racing. We look forward to being involved again across our major meetings this year.”