China Horse Club Makes a Run for the Roses


Around 17,000 people attended last year’s event, the club said, including John Warren, a member of the club’s international advisory council who is also the bloodstock and racing adviser to Queen Elizabeth; Allen Chastanet, the prime minister of St. Lucia; and Elliott Walden, the president and chief executive of WinStar Farm, with whom the club partnered, along with Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing, on Justify and Audible.

Building a horse racing empire in a market as large as China is alluring. The Chinese New Year Raceday in February in Hong Kong, where racing is regulated and wagering is legal, attracted 89,084 people searching for a lucky start. The all-sources handle, or money bet, was about $221 million. The attendance for last year’s Derby was 158,070, but the handle was $209 million.

However, significant hurdles remain, including the ban on wagering in China. Many wealthy businessmen have tried before Mr. Teo and failed. Tracks and veterinary facilities are inadequate, and there is a lack of quarantine facilities, which makes it difficult to get horses out of the country.

The club’s events are organized on a local level, without the recognition of major regional or international bodies governing the sport.

Mr. Teo’s project in St. Lucia, which is also a member of the British Commonwealth and home to about 200,000 people, includes plans for a casino, marina, mall, resort, free-trade zone and racetrack with room for 1,000 horses. In November 2016, Prince Harry, Mr. Chastanet and Mr. Teo broke ground. Then quarantine issues and legal problems over land acquisition delayed the nearly $3 billion project for more than a year.


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