I’ve been reading a fascinating article from the local media in Wuhan on the racing festival (the tenth annual such festival) there last month: attended by ‘Ireland’s most famous horse racing master’ Mick Kinnane, who the newspaper quotes as lavishing praise on the racing set up in this central-Chinese city which has long hoped to get permission to conduct on-track gambling. Kinnane said he was “very surprised” by the quality of the track and the horsemanship, and reckoned the local body size makes Wuhan natives ideal jockeys.
More interesting though are the details of the sponsors and the racers. Five races were sponsored by, among others, the Wujiashan Economic and Technological Development Zone Cup and the Earl Golf Club, both local establishments. The horses – “all thoroughbreds” points out the newspaper – came from Tianjin (the coastal city just east of Beijing) as well as Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia province.
“Famous jockey Siriguleng won the gold medal in 1 minute 02 seconds 56 while the Wuhan team of jockey Chen Wei took a silver medal,” according to the news report. Honours in a 1.5 and 5 mile races went to Wenliang Sheng of of Inner Mongolia Ewenke Horse Industry Association and Hohhot Liu Yi respectively – both from the same province of Inner Mongolia.
Ultimately the horses appear to come from city governments and the prizes are medals for the jockeys – there’s no mention in the article of prize money going to owners or breeders. Rich from coal mining, and one of the few regions with a tradition of horsemanship, Inner Mongolia appears to be out in front in the horseracing/breeding stakes. No sign of any legalisation of on-track gambling any time soon though.