Major boost for Chinese racing as government launches strategy to promote sport
Racing in China has received a major boost following the unveiling of a five-year blueprint for the country’s equine sector which will promote the sport.
Organised racing was outlawed in the country in 1945 and no legal gambling on the sport has taken place on mainland China since 1949. However, in recent years there have been localised exhibition race fixtures have been conducted including by the HKJC at its facility in Conghua and by the China Horse Club (CHC) at locations including in Inner Mongolia.
In recent years, Chinese investment in racing has poured into Europe, US and Australia, the most high-profile example being the success of unbeaten 2018 US Triple Crown winner Justify, who was part-owned by the CHC, an exclusive membership organisation with sprawling international interests, including a stake in the Tote and a reported $1 million joining fee.
The importance of China for the future of British racing was outlined last year in a report jointly commissioned by the BHA, Ascot and Great British Racing International in which China was described as “an absolutely key emerging market for British racing”.
The report added: “China remains a huge global opportunity for horseracing, with an expanding middle class, significant wealth generation and a developing passion for equestrian pursuits.
The joint announcement last week from China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and General Administration of Sports, titled the National Equine Industry Development Plan (2020-2025), will seek to promote and develop equestrian sports and industries throughout the country and “accelerate the transformation and upgrading of [the] country's horse industry”.
The government plans to develop racing, known in the country as ‘speed racing’ by upgrading horse welfare and medication standards to an international level, developing national competitions and publishing an annual report outlining the “credibility of horseracing in China”.
Additionally, an associated lottery could be set up alongside the promotion of racing, something on which the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has previously advised the government.
The report states: “[We will] improve the equestrian sports system . . . explore and promote horseracing. Research and formulate national speed horseracing competition standards and national development plans, establish a grading system that is in line with international standards and improve the national horseracing system.
It adds: “Enhance the credibility of horseracing events, implement an assessment system for professional practitioners and focus on professional ethics and codes of conduct. Improve the management and control of horse medicines and prohibited items, gradually establish a horse welfare system in line with international standards, and publish an annual report on the credibility of racing in China.
“In accordance with the principles of ‘small steps, divided steps and steady’ and ‘pilot first, then promote’, and in accordance with the development laws and regulatory requirements of instant sports lottery and large-scale sports game guessing lottery, the pilot work of speed horseracing is promoted.”
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