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WTC Opens In France

Published: June 11, 2013 3:44 pm ET

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Problems facing the standardbred industry, seen by many to be opportunities to change and grow, are among the topics that will be discussed at the biennial World Trotting Conference, which opened Tuesday, June 11 in France.

Delegates from 19 countries have convened to hear presentations from regulators, marketers and other experts from a number of racing and breeding-related organizations, in what has become the leading opportunity for an exchange of information since the first such conference was convened in the United States in 1969.

The opening presentation was made by Dominique de Bellaigue, president of Le Trot, the governing body of racing and breeding in France and the host of this year’s World Trotting Conference.

De Bellaigue revealed that the work of a committee comprised of all sectors of the French industry would be revealed later this month, and thereby set the framework for the future direction of racing and breeding in his country. He also challenged countries around the world to work to influence elected and appointed officials who regulate the sport.

“There can be no racing or breeding without a strong political will," Bellaigue said. "I believe we (the nations attending the conference) should join to establish a worldwide political network to ensure wagering contributes at least eight per cent of its revenues to support the jobs our industry provides."

The individual harness racing countries in Europe have been nearly unanimous in their opposition to fixed-odds and exchange wagering, which they believe actually drain wagering revenues from the sport because of the low amounts they pay into purses due to their slim net margins while they compete with more traditional forms of wagering that pay higher amounts into the sport.

The delegates spent the afternoon in various committee sessions delving into topics such as marketing, drug testing, animal welfare and racing and wagering. On Tuesday evening the delegates will share a 'busman’s holiday' by enjoying the races at l’Hippodrome Paris-Vincennes --- the suburban Paris racetrack famed as the home of the Prix d’Amerique, and the one that will host the final heat of the 2013 World Driving Championship this coming Saturday.

The World Trotting Conference will continue on Wednesday and will conclude this coming Saturday.


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