Millionaire wants horse racing to thrive in China

A Chinese millionaire has announced that he wants to transform his country into a global horse racing powerhouse, despite gambling being illegal in the mainland. The ruling Communist government are also said to frown upon horse racing itself due to its association with western culture.

Ren Ningning, who made his riches in machinery and concrete amongst other things, says he wants China to become a recognised power in the world of horse racing. He also says that he wants both Chinese horses and jockeys to compete in races at the highest level and succeed.

Mr Ren attends auctions worldwide, and last year in Australia he bought just short of a hundred horses and flew them back to China in a chartered plane.

His stables in Wuhan – the most populous city in Central China – now contain well-bred stallions from all over the world. The city's racecourse is considered one of the best facilities on the planet.

Gambling in China

Though gambling is outlawed in China, attendees of horse races at Wuhan racecourse can back horses in a lottery – they pick the number of the horse they think is going to win, and if it does they receive a bottle of wine.

However, in Hong Kong or Macau – China's two semi-autonomous regions – horse racing is not frowned upon and betting on it is legal. In Hong Kong, bets must be placed through the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which is also the territory's largest taxpayer and employer.

Gambling tourism is an enormous source of revenue in Macau, attracting many visitors each year from the Chinese mainland, and in the late 2000s it overtook Las Vegas Strip's gaming revenue.

Before gambling was made illegal in mainland China, betting on horse racing was commonplace during the sport's Chinese golden age in the mid to late 19th century, and was very much part of the overall experience like it is in the UK and US today.

Play Virtual Horse Racing

Virtual Horse Racing is a great way to experience the excitement of the sport from your own home in a fun and casual manner. You can place your bets just as you would at the racecourse and could potentially win big. We have compiled a list of websites for you which will get you signed up and started.