TAK-at-ARC-1-1024x731Mr Teo Ah Khing (photo by HKJC and Asian Racing Conference)

Mr Teo Ah Khing, Chairman of the China Horse Club and its parent company Desert Star Holdings, was among the invited guest speakers at the 35th Asian Racing Conference in Hong Kong last week.

The biannual Asian Racing Conference has become the most significant thoroughbred industry conference in the world. Leaders from across the globe converged on Hong Kong to discuss the many and varied issues surrounding thoroughbred racing but it was the subject of China and its future as a thoroughbred racing and breeding centre that was the overarching topic of discussion.

More than 500 people packed into the Grand Hall to listen to the final session of the Asian Racing Conference which was titled ‘Racing and Breeding in Mainland China’. Mr Teo’s presentation followed that of Mr Winifred Englebrecht-Bresges, the Chief Executive Officer of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The presentation covered significant ground. From an overview of the progress made by the China Horse Club in the last 18 months to the hosting of the inaugural China Equine Cultural Festival (CECF) and to the ability of the club to take this business and entertainment model of racing around the world to centres where Chinese people like to travel.

According to the China Tourism Academy no less than 26.4 million Chinese travelled overseas in the first quarter of 2014, a rise of 17 percent on the same period in 2013. In that short time frame these travelers spent USD3.4 billion in travel expenses, a rise of 16 percent on the same period 12 months ago.

As a business, the CECF is designed to harness the potential of China’s mass market when it travels either locally or abroad. As an entertainment model, the CECF promotes thoroughbred racing as a lifestyle and social outlet.

The success of such a model helps drive the creation of an ‘Equine Value Chain’, a series of industries within a thoroughbred racing industry which will generate a vast array of opportunities within China.

The business model of the CHC is a unique model in the racing world and, in part, this is drawn from the dynamism of the club’s leadership and to the company being a private entity. Its experience both in China and in international markets as a racehorse owner, breeder and industry participant places the CHC in a unique position to bridge many of the challenges posed by China’s emergence into the global thoroughbred industry.

Fellow speaker or panelists on the discussion of ‘Racing and Breeding in Mainland China’ included the esteemed Mr Louis Romanet, President of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities; Ms. Tina Hua, Deputy Director of Equestrian Department, General Administration of Sport of China, Cycling and Fencing Sports Administration Centre; Professor Guocai Han, Vice-Chairman of the China Horse Industry Association; Mr Bill Nader, Executive Director of Racing at the HKJC; Dr Kim Mak, Executive Director of Corporate Development at HKJC; Dr Chris Riggs, Head of Veterinary Clinical Services HKJC and Patrick Baker, Project Manager Meydan. The session was moderated by Mr Andrew Harding, Secretary General of the Asian Racing Federation.