The Philippine Racing Commission (Philracom) under chairman Reli de Leon wants local horseracing to become a key part of the sports tourism industry.

“It’s about time to open Philippine horseracing to tourists,” said De Leon during Tuesday’s online Philippine Sportswriters Association (PSA) Forum.

De Leon said Philracom will soon present the plan before the Department of Tourism, Department of Foreign Affairs, and the different embassies in the country.

“This will boost our sales. It will be good for sports tourism. The tourists will not only come to the Philippines to go to Boracay but experience horseracing here,” said De Leon.

“We see this is a good way of promoting sports tourism,” said the Philracom chief, citing as example the Kentucky Derby in the United States or the major races in Dubai which attract as many as 100,000 tourists each year.

“This also means more money for our government and more employment for our countrymen,” added De Leon during the forum presented by San Miguel Corporation (SMC), MILO, Philippine Sports Commission, Philippine Olympic Committee, Amelie Hotel Manila, Unilever, and Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR).

He said unlike other countries that experience winter, which means a halt in horseracing, Philracom enjoys a yearlong calendar.

Philracom, according to De Leon, can coordinate with the various travel agencies in the country in putting up horseracing packages for tourists, including airfare, board and lodging and shuttles from their hotels to the racetracks.

“We will invite tourists from all over the world,” said De Leon during the forum that was also graced by Philracom executive director Ron Corpuz.

Philracom also announced the staging of the country’s first 2,400-meter race on Sept. 18 at the MJCI in Carmona, Cavite, a three-day Horseracing Festival and Expo from Oct. 14 to 16, and the Hall of Fame Awards on Dec. 4 where an initial batch of 10 awardees will be announced.

Among those expected to lead the awardees are the late Ambassador Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco and Don Antonio Floirendo Sr.

The festival will feature clinics on horseracing and breeding and horse care not just for race horses but those being used in equestrian and polo.

De Leon said an expert from Australia will come over to share the expertise. The festival will also feature conferences on jockeys, trainers and horse owners.

Source: Manila Bulletin (