Orient Lucky City Racecourse
Orient Lucky City Racecourse

Orient Lucky City Racecourse

(Photo : Wuhan Blog)

“That could be the future

of many SA-bred horses.”

Alec Hogg Moneyweb
Alec Hogg Moneyweb

Alec Hogg

MoneywebEver since South Africa became the S in BRICS (the others being Brazil, Russia, India and China) I’ve been wondering how long it would take our local horse racing industry to appreciate the potential. The Brazilians have a long-standing racing and breeding culture, so there must be opportunities there. But the big cherry, surely, is exporting horses to the gambling mad, racing obsessed Chinese.

Like the hidden legs of a serenely swimming duck, frantic activity isn’t always apparent. But just because we can’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. Over many years in business as a player and very interested spectator, I’ve realised that tomorrow’s “overnight success” has often been a long, long time in the making. Moneyweb’s Apps are the most obvious current example; we’ve been at them for 18 months now, but that much won’t be apparent to anyone when they’re released in a couple weeks.

Was delighted to learn this week that our racing industry leaders are alive to the Chinese opportunity. Racing South Africa’s CEO Peter Gibson was a member of the recent business delegation taken to Beijing by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and tells me he had “a very positive meeting” with the Chinese Horse Industry Association. The Chinese will follow-up with a visit to SA next March by their own fact finding team headed by officials from the Department of Agriculture. They will be hosted by SA’s Agriculture Ministry and will check controls and quarantine conditions around African Horse Sickness.

Peter says he was amazed to learn that China already imports 2000 horses a year, two thirds of them thoroughbreds. Presumably a number of them headed for Wuhan, the biggest city in Central China (pop. 9.8m), where the country’s racing experiment is in full swing. Weekly race meetings are held with between four and six races staged between 10 to 12 runners. A company called Orient Lucky Horse Industry is behind the project, stabling around 500 horses. No betting is allowed on the races but spectators who correctly guess the winner can win small prizes. The races are televised. Central Government is fully aware of the potential that horse racing offers for the public purse. Betting on racing generates 12% of total tax revenues in the reclaimed Hong Kong.

China’s economic miracle of the past three decades followed a period of extensive planning. It’s a country that analyses deeply before implementing - setting out long-term goals before pulling any triggers. Judging by the Wuhan experiment, those plans are progressing well. Peter Gibson is doing yeoman work in trying to ensure South Africa is part of the project. The potential is staggering - China houses almost a quarter of the world’s population and 16 times South Africa’s.

Extract from www.gracelandfarm.co.za

Comment