A new strategic alliance announced Sept. 9 is expected to bring China much closer to establishing the foundation required to host internationally-recognized Thoroughbred racing.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is partnering with the Chinese Equestrian Association on the final leg of the four-part China Horse Racing Grand Prix, to be held Nov. 7 at Jinma Racecourse in Wenjiang, about an hour outside Chengdu in the Sichuan province.
Besides sponsoring the name of the race—the Hong Kong Jockey Club Raceday—the HKJC is providing on-site classes and training for jockeys, racing stewards, and judges, as well as aiding in the development of advanced drug-testing protocols.
“Through the sharing of our technical acumen and implementation experience, the Club will work closely with the CEA over the next few years to enhance all aspects of racing control and regulations, with the goal of facilitating China’s connection to horse racing sport,” said Andrew Harding, executive director of racing authority for the HKJC.
The HKJC has provided assistance with other gaming and sporting ventures, such as assisting with software and risk management on the China Sports Lottery and in spending HK$1.2 billion building facilities for and organizing equestrian events for the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and Paralympic Games, according to the South China Morning Post.
“The strategic cooperation between the CEA and HKJC is a perfect match considering the vast development potential of the equestrian-related market of the mainland and the Club’s expertise in racing operations,” said Ji Daoming, deputy director of the Cycling and Fencing Sports Administrative Centre, State General Administration of Sports, which oversees the CEA. “This cooperation will draw on advantages from both parties and create a high-level international racing brand.”
Most of the horses that will be participating in the Nov. 7 event have qualified through one of three prior legs in the Grand Prix series. Those were held July 11 near Horquin, Inner Mongolia; Aug. 8 at Xilinhot, Inner Mongolia; and Sept. 5 at Youyu in the Shanxi province, according to the Post.
Because no betting is allowed on horse racing in China, HKJC chief executive officer Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges told the Post a key aspect of the alliance is providing business expertise on generating revenue through sponsorships and other marketing ventures.
“Having been invited by our valued partner the Chinese Equestrian Association to contribute towards the sustainable development of horse racing as a sport in China, we have identified key areas where we can take the existing footprint of speed racing to a new level of performance and regulation,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said as part of the alliance announcement. “Assisting the CEA to build capabilities and processes to further develop and administer the sport with an advanced focus on integrity is key and it is an important mission we share with the Asian Racing Federation and the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities.”
Specific details of the Nov. 7 race day in Wenjiang will be released at a later date.