Horse Racing Back In China

Published November 28, 2008 by OCR Editor

Horse Racing Back In China

Trial expected to lead to regular races in the future.

The first commercial horse race in mainland China since 1949 will take place this weekend in the central city of Wuhan, according to local media.

The riders will race for a total of 120,000 yuan (around $18,000) in prize money. They will compete in a newly-built 30,000 seat arena, suggesting that there will be more races in the future.

Future meetings are expected to be held two days a week, the Beijing Evening Post reported.

Earlier this year, state news agency Xinhua reported that the Chinese government was considering legalizing gambling on horse races, beginning with Wuhan, which was one of the centers for horse racing before it was banned and has grown rapidly since then to become a city of almost 10 million people.

However this weekend's races are purely a trial, with only non-cash prizes on offer.

The Communist Party banned horse racing and other gambling-related activities after taking power in the Chinese revolution in 1949, following the prolonged and bloody civil war with the Kuomintang, or Chinese Nationalist Party.

However, horse racing remained popular in Hong Kong - the former British territory returned to Chinese rule in 1997 - where crowds in excess of 80,000 regularly turn up to see the world's best jockeys race each other at the Happy Valley and Sha Tin racecourses.

If completely revived, betting on horseracing is expected to be just as popular on the mainland, with experts saying it could generate up to three million jobs and 40 million yuan in tax revenues annually.

See also

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