23 new horse tracks to be built in Turkey
Elif Ergu - ISTANBUL
AA photoTurkey’s horse breeding sector, which has made over $26 billion in revenue over the last decade, plans to build 23 new horse racing tracks across the country, according to sector representatives.
“Turkey currently has nine horse tracks. We have made requests to municipalities to open new ones and most of them have responded positively. We now plan to build 23 new horse tracks across Turkey,” said Yasin Kadri Ekinci, the head of the Jockey Club of Turkey.
Ekinci said the first of these new horse tracks will be built in the Mediterranean resort of Antalya, the Black Sea province of Samsun, and the Central Anatolian province of Konya.
He added that the tracks need to be planned as a “living complex” to allow the horse breeding sector and the jockeying to further develop.
“Actually, almost all provinces should have a horse track. These facilities should also involve spaces for people to do sports, to go for a picnic, to listen to concerts, and to see art exhibitions,” Ekinci said.
He noted that France currently has 231 horse tracks, seven of which are in Paris, and France’s horse racing sector employs 200,000 people.
Turkey’s horse breeding sector has reached over $26 billion in revenue in Turkey over the past decade, but this amount is very low considering the real potential of the sector, according to Ekinci. Some 50 percent of the money collected in the horse racing agencies is distributed to the winning betters and the remaining money given to the state as taxes and used by the Jockey Club, he said, adding that the tax burden on the sector has decreased since 2007.
“Turkey has made only $600 million of investment in the sector until now and this is very low,” he said, claiming that the sector has the potential to create 2,000 new jobs annually if the necessary investments are made.
Ekinci said the horse breeding sector has “yet to mature” and the needs more time for privatizations.
“Around 1,860 people own horses to race in Turkey. Some of these people have up to 3,000 horses … But only 15 percent of horse owners or horse breeders earn money, the other 85 percent makes losses … If someone plans to start a horse breeding business, they need to keep in mind that annual losses may reach up to $200 million,” Ekinci said.
He also noted that the Jockey Club recruits 30 students every year to train them as jockeys.
“It takes two years to become an apprentice jockey. We then send the best five to Ireland or Australia. An apprentice is qualified to be a jockey after winning 150 races. Our club will offer 40 million Turkish Liras ($15 million) to both jockeys and apprentice jockeys this year. There are 500 registered jockeys, but only 100 of them are active,” he said, adding that the 10 most successful jockeys take more than 10 percent of overall money.