Chinese Horseracing Delegation visit to South Africa
Chinese Horseracing Delegation visit to South Africa

Mick Goss hosts the Chinese Horseracing Delegation,

Box 3A Racing and Peter Gibson (Racing South Africa)

(Photo : Summerhill Stud)

“A bit of a tough weekend for the Old Country”

The headline to this article could be misleading, so don’t show it to persons under the age of 18. That said, while the Irish economy may well be under the “kosh”, you can’t get the Irish spirit down. About a month ago, we penned a piece about a €40 billion export success which Irish Thoroughbred Marketing had engineered with the Chinese authorities. Whatever else may be wrong with the finances of that remarkable little country, they continue to dominate the thoroughbred world in a manner no other country has done in modern times. As mankind’s history has taught us so many times, it’s often down to the labours of a few, and that’s very much the case with Ireland, where John Magnier’sCoolmore group have led the charge.

Nonetheless, this little country of ours, at the southernmost tip of what the civilized world to the north of us likes to call the “darkest continent”, has a more impressive history in the broader commercial world. Professor Nick Binedell (who’ll be a keynote speaker in our School of Excellence on Wednesday 11th July), head of the Gordon Institute of Business Studies (one of the top twenty business schools on the planet,) likes to remind us that South Africa has produced more great companies than any other country of its size. That says something for the courage, the sense of enterprise and the pioneering spirit of this nation.

You might say then, that it’s hardly surprising we were one of the first countries in the world (after Ireland) to receive an official government delegation of citizens from the People’s Republic of China, but that’s not only to do with enterprise. It must be seen in the broader context of the value of our membership of the BRICS group of countries, and the fact that, of the bigger thoroughbred producing countries of the world, we’re better placed politically than most. The Americans and the Chinese are competitors; the Europeans are sceptical about Chinese money, and while they might have to take it one day, they’ll do so with reluctance; the Australians have been battling the Chinese about access to their mineral resources, and the Japanese have been at war with China for several centuries. It makes sense then, for China to talk to us about horse matters, hence the first delegation’s visit last week.

They were at Summerhill on Sunday, and we couldn’t have had a better group to accompany them. The fellows from Box 3A, are the new hopes for racehorse ownership among young people in this province. These fellows bring the camaraderie and the fresh spirit to racing that our generation once knew. If you haven’t yet heard of them, go to Greyville - you’re bound to hear them.

We did say at the outset that the title to this piece could be misleading. The reason is, if you’re a rugby man, you were watching the Springboks flatten the English on Saturday, and the Baby Boks take Argentina apart (35-3) on Sunday evening (if you weren’t in the blackout zone on the outskirts of Mooi River.) Both teams are in sublime form (in patches,) and while the Springboks need to put together 80 minutes of the kind of football they played in the first half of Saturday’s test, the fact is they’ve got the Poms cold. It will take a miracle turn-around to change next week’s outcome. Before we get too cocky though, remember the old bugbear, complacency.

And back to the Irish. Their junior team also gave England a good slap Sunday evening, so it was a bit of a tough weekend for the “Old Country”.