China racing's new frontier
China is not renowned as a horse racing mecca but some of Australia’s biggest breeders hope that will change in the future.
Former government minister Peter McGauran, now the chief executive of Aushorse Marketing which promotes the Australian thoroughbred, was a special guest at the China International racing festival on Sunday, run by the China Equestrian Association (CEA).
Australian-bred horses won five of the seven races and while the prizemoney of $A8000 per race was modest, McGauran believes the sport has a future in China.
"It was competitive and highly professional racing in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 6000 cheering spectators" McGauran said.
"China is a complex and largely unpredictable market in the early stages of its development.
"However, it’s important Australia remains engaged and supportive for the long-term.
"We want to build a lasting partnership based on mutual benefit and respect with racehorse owners and breeders in China, as well as racing authorities."
The Wuhan racecourse where the meeting was conducted is one of Asia’s newest and largest and boasts a seven-storey high, 200m long grandstand.
There was no gambling at the meeting, in accordance with the Chinese government’s policy.
McGauran will also meet with quarantine and biosecurity officials in Beijing to encourage the streamlining of import protocols.