THE China Horse Club will be staging four races at the Yiqi Race Course in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, on Sunday, 21 August. The mini-meeting will feature club-owned horses imported from Europe and New Zealand and ridden by jockeys from around the world.

The event is linked to a pair of local festivals—the Chinese Equine Cultural Festival and the Ordos Nadam—and is primarily geared to wealthy Chinese members of the club, giving them a chance to participate in person in the “lifestyle” experience that is a major part of the China Horse Club’s attraction. They are also hoping to attract several thousand local racing fans just to watch the action.

The races will be staged on a 2,000-meter sand track outside the Ordos “New City,” a largely uninhabited urban centre sometimes referred to as the “Ghost City” of China. This was built as part of a central planning scheme, but the area never attracted the expected population when the local mining industry went into a slump.

The Club has imported 120 horses to the stables at Yiqi — 89 from New Zealand, including many who just turned 2 years old by Southern Hemisphere rules, and 39 from Europe. They are intended to remain in China to participate in local racing through the end of the season in October, then emerge for the 2017 season.

Jarred Coetzee, head trainer for the China Horse Club, said: “Wagering is a sensitive topic here. I’m sure it will come up. There’s too many people who love their racing here … And they have this beautiful infrastructure for it, all over China—beautiful places. Everyone is just waiting.”

Other players are involved, too. The Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of the largest wagering hubs in the world, is in the final stages of building a large training center on the Mainland, north of Hong Kong—a facility widely perceived as easily convertible to a racing facility if the opportunity arises. The HKJC is reportedly training infrastructure personnel on the mainland and regularising the Chinese stud book.

Dubai’s Meydan Group has conducted a one-off race meeting in western China for three years.

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