Australian horses gallop into China
Australian breeders have established an important foothold in China with the first ever Australian thoroughbred sale in Beijing at the weekend.
Aushorse Marketing chief executive Peter McGauran attended the landmark auction and said the sale had raised the profile of Australian horses and provided a platform for further expansion into the market.
"There is growing interest in racing and breeding in China and Aussie breds are leading the way," McGauran said.
"Although there is no legalised gambling on horse racing yet in China, there are signs of growth in thoroughbred racing as a sport.
"Even with the limitations a ban on betting has on the development of a racing industry, China is progressing towards a valuable niche market for Australian breeders."
Conducted on the outskirts of Beijing at the private training track of the Chinese vendor, the sale offered 80 unraced Australian breds at auction with published reserve prices.
The horses were supplied by Magic Millions and sourced from across Australia.
They were quarantined in the Hunter Valley before being transported to Beijing where they were broken in and prepared for the sale by former Hong Kong trainer Stephen Leung.
Magic Millions assisted in the promotion and marketing of the sale and general manager David Chester travelled to China to assist in final preparations and on the day of the auction itself.
Being the first of its kind, the sale attracted significant interest and was well attended by government and equestrian officials as well as horse enthusiasts.
"The horses were in excellent condition and paraded exceptionally well and presented a great image for Australian breds" McGauran said.
"The auction was professionally conducted and despite the reserves being published in the catalogue, achieved a 50 per cent clearance rate with several sold post sale."
Those that did sell at auction brought high prices.
The sale topper was a four-year-old son of Octagonal out of From the Cellar which fetched $A195,000 closely followed by a three-year-old colt by Octagonal from Constitute for $A190,000.
McGauran believes another sale of this kind in China will follow in the near future.
"These are entirely commercial matters between the vendor and Magic Millions, but a significant buying bench has been identified in China which holds potential for the future," he said.
"Of particular interest were the sizable number of horses bought by Mongolian buyers for racing and breeding purposes."
McGauran will meet with Australian and Chinese government officials during his visit to Beijing to push the opening up of the trade in thoroughbreds which is beset by complex and expensive bio-security and quarantine protocols between the two countries.