You are not a leader unless you take other people to places they have never been or challenge
them to try new things. It’s easy to sit on the sidelines and criticise others who dare to be different, but it takes strong leadership to deliver change for the better. Through shared learning and experimentation we are all capable of improving, and this is the ethos I witnessed at the recent China Equine Cultural Festival in Hohhot last week. Mr Teo, Chairman of Desert Star Holdings and the China Horse Club is a natural leader, very enthusiastic about horse racing and all that it can
bring to the people of China. I was lucky enough to be a guest for this event, which included an international symposium with a number of distinguished speakers, including Louis Romanet, President of the International Federation of Horseracing Authorities, and Professor Joseph Deiss, Former President of the United Nations General Assembly. They both had interesting insights to share.
The highlight however was the International Raceday held at Mengjun Racecourse on the outskirts of Hohhot. It has been well publicised that Mr Teo’s preference was to conduct the first race meeting in Tianjing, but that facility will not be available until 2014. The Mengjun facility is reasonably new and fair to say is still being developed, but it did provide a suitable venue for the number of guests who participated in year one. There were 4 races involving existing Chinese racehorses, and 4 races for recently imported racehorses which were referred to as international races. The international races generated significant interest from everyone in attendance, with a highlight being a stellar line up of international jockeys such as Joao Moreira, Danny Beasley, Ryan Plumb and Darryl Holland. It was great to see so many new racehorse owners, such as the colourful ladies from Shanghai who won the Longines Mile with an Australian bred daughter of Rock Of Gibraltar. Their excitement was on par with the best I have seen back in Australia, both ladies hugging me like I was their long lost relative when their mare crossed the line 4 lengths in front of its nearest rival, also an Australian bred horse. Yes the ground under foot was a little wet from recent heavy rain, and no they didn’t have a grandstand. But the Mongolian Yurts and rug lined pathways added to the uniqueness of the experience, and made for a most enjoyable days racing. People who focus on the small issues are missing the bigger picture and will fail to grasp the future potential of the Chinese market which does not need gambling to be successful. With sponsors such as Longines prepared to put up significant prizemoney, there is potential for a different model in China which many have failed to grasp.
I congratulate Mr Teo for his leadership and his determination, and thank him and his team for their most generous hospitality.
Note: Photos of this event are on the Inglis Facebook page or my page https://www.facebook.com/mark.webster.5836