Kildare set to benefit from multi-million Chinese horse racing project

Kildare is set to become a major contributor in China’s horse racing industry as part of a €40 million export project.

Kildare is set to become a major contributor in China’s horse racing industry as part of a €40 million export project.

Ireland has been chosen as China’s partner to establish the country’s first new multi billion dollar national equine facility.

Curragh-based Horse Racing Ireland’s CEO Brian Kavanagh has big plans for Kildare to play a significant role in the deal, which he described as “an accumulation of a lot of hard work” over the past 18 months.

“This is the first significant breakthrough in terms of horse racing and breeding into China,” he said.

“It is the accumulation of a lot of hard work by ourselves with representatives in the market over the past 18 months.

“There has also been a lot of visits [from Chinese representatives] looking at the industry here and how it is structured, as well as having Chinese student jockeys here learning how to ride.”

The Tianjin Equine Culture City will be the first of its kind in China since a 60 year ban on horse racing was lifted last year and the €1.5 billion project will open in phases from next year.

The project which is estimated to generate €40 million for Ireland over the next three years, was announced by Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who is leading Ireland’s largest agriculture and food trade mission to China this week.

“They are talking about looking at setting up a jockey training school,” Mr Kavanagh added. “And they have visited the race track in the Curragh to see how to set up a race track.

“We will export our expertise and our horses and the long term effect will have a positive influence on Kildare.

“China is like Dubai and the Middle East was 20 years ago - it is a blank canvas.

“We’ve done a lot of work in China through our subsidiary company, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing which is based at HRI. They have promoted the sale of Irish bloodstock to China with the Department of Agriculture.

“There are a number of small breeders from Kildare already active in China while on Wednesday in Dundalk a Chinese owned horse ‘China One’, trained by Paul Deegan at the Curragh, will race.”

The breeding programme in Tianjin, a city of 12 million people, will involve an agreement to import over 100 mares from Ireland in the next three years.

The project will also involve the acquisition of stallions.