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Q&A with Teo Ah Khing - China Horse Club

8 min read
Christie DeBernardis sits down with China Horse Club Founder and Chairman Teo Ah Khing to discuss CHC’s success in Australia and plans for the future.

TDN AusNZ: The China Horse Club (CHC) and partners have won a host of Group 1 races in Australia. What particular race and horse springs to mind?

TAK: I think the Oakleigh Plate with Russian Revolution (Snitzel) was a milestone victory for CHC and partners. A long-term plan was set to buy yearling colts and turn them into champion sprinters we want to stand at stud. Russian Revolution was secured in our first year of planning such a project and to achieve it with such a high-quality colt was especially satisfying.

Achievements in Australia To Date:

9 G1 wins: Dissident (2), Russian Revolution (2), Extreme Choice (1), First Seal (1), Invader (1), Press Statement (1) and Pride of Dubai (1);

First owner to win the Australian Horse of the Year title, NSW Horse of the Year Title and Victorian Horse of the Year Title in the same season;

Dissident crowned Australian Horse of the Year and Australian Sprinter of the Year for season 2014/15;

Dissident crowned Victorian Horse of the Year for season 2014/15;

First Seal crowned NSW Horse of the Year, Three-Year-Old of the Year and Queen of the Autumn for season 2014/15;

Yearling sale: AUD1.3 million (Fastnet Rock x Defiant Dame colt, buyer Gerald Ryan)

Sell sale-topper at the 2016 NZB Ready To Run Sale with our partners (Sebring x Joleur colt);

Landmark wins: CHC records its 1st win in Australia in April 2013 with Scarlet Moretta and its 400th win globally in Australia when Lion’s Head won at Kembla Grange in June 2018;

Teo Ah Khing and Kerrin McEvoy

TDN AusNZ: Russian Revolution is obviously an extremely exciting stallion prospect. Will you be supporting him with many of your own mares?

TAK: We plan to send 30 mares, including G1 winners and dams of G1 winners. We intend to support him extremely heavily in all seasons and in the sale ring. He’s the most exciting stallion prospect in Australia this season.

TDN AusNZ: You must be looking forward to Dissident (Sebring)'s first 2-year-olds this season?

TAK: Extremely excited to see these Dissidents hit the tracks. The early reports are good and while I don’t expect a host of pre-Christmas 2-year-olds we will again be supporting him with a number of mares this season.

TDN AusNZ: Neutrality (Sebring) finished a good second resuming, what are the plans for him going forward? What made you decide to donate his winnings to the drought relief?

TAK: He will run in the Heritage S. in a couple of weeks, then the Roman Consul S. with a view to the G1 Coolmore Stud S. He needs very good ground to show his very best but is a highly talented individual.

The donation for the drought is reflective of CHC being a part of the NSW farming community. We have seen the struggles some are facing and felt a small gesture would help a much larger cause.

TDN AusNZ: What's your long-term goal for the CHC?

TAK: CHC is in its second five-year plan at present. This plan focuses on education, charity and business networking.

As a lifestyle, business and thoroughbred racing club it is our goal to continue to offer better experiences and better business opportunities to our members. It is part of our club’s mantra to give our members a reliable entry into this sport and to let them go “racing to the world”.

But we are also cognizant of our responsibilities to contribute to the continued growth of China’s domestic thoroughbred industry and the global industry at large.

Our club’s global footprint has grown quickly and significantly in the last five years. Right now, we are independently ranked among the world’s top 10 owners which is very rewarding. But this level of investment is immense and it does make a notable contribution to supporting local industries and creating jobs in locations around the world.

In terms of social responsibility, it is important that we offer more and more opportunities to talented Chinese men and women in this industry. To have them learn “world’s best practice” overseas and bring these skills back to China to help grow the domestic industry. A current example of this is Chinese jockey Qin Yong who is an apprentice in NSW and doing very well.

Our second five-year plan also sees CHC continue its focus on the China Equine Cultural Festival (CECF). This event promotes cultural exchange and business networking under the banner of “Bringing the World to China, China to The World”. Since 2013, it has been hosted in China in Hohhot, Shanghai, Wuhan and Ordos. In 2015, it was hosted internationally for the first time in Singapore. In 2019, a new frontier will open up with the CECF being held in the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia and we are inviting Australians to participate here.

Going forward, I can see CHC having a strong presence in both Australia and the United States and in trying to help forge stronger relations between the industries in China and these countries. - Teo Ah Khing

Michael Wallace (left) with Teo Ah Khing (centre) and Mick Flanagan (right), photo: Christie DeBernardis

TDN AusNZ: And how does Australia fit into that plan?

TAK: Australia is pivotal to the CHC continuing to provide exceptional opportunities for members to race and/or invest in elite thoroughbreds. In Australia alone, we have a portfolio of stallions that stand across five studs, a commercial broodmare band and a quality racing team.

Many of the lessons we have learnt in Australia have also allowed us to fast track our growth in the U.S. and other centres. So, Australia is a location where we have intentionally been very proactive and I see that continuing.

Going forward, I can see CHC having a strong presence in both Australia and the United States and in trying to help forge stronger relations between the industries in China and these countries. Centres like Australia should be encouraged to proactively contribute to China’s emerging industry, especially with knowledge sharing. Having legislation in place that supports educational facilities like TAFE NSW and industry bodies like Racing NSW should be encouraged. These organizations want to help educate industry participants from countries like China but are challenged by unfriendly visa policies.

"Australia is a location where we have intentionally been very proactive and I see that continuing." - Teo Ah Khing

But it is also important to acknowledge those organizations that continue to be leaders in this field through their proactive approaches. The Australian Turf Club, Inglis and Magic Millions have been wonderful supports of clubs like CHC in both Australia and in China and that support is vital to grow interest and participation in all levels of Australia’s industry.

Praise should also be given to private companies like Horserail who have supported the growth of the industry in China. Last year Thoroughbred Breeders’ Australia also brought Chinese to Australia on a scholarship and that was a positive step forward. Educational opportunities through knowledge sharing cannot be underestimated, these steps must continue to be encouraged and applauded.

TDN AusNZ: Has Justify (USA) (Scat Daddy {USA}) winning the Triple Crown in the CHC colours fully sunk in yet?

TAK: The impact of Justify winning the Triple Crown in both WinStar and CHC colours is immeasurable. It was a big deal to win the 2017 Kentucky Oaks with Abel Tasman (USA) (Quality Road {USA}) in our silks but Justify’s run to glory was at a level we have never experienced before and may never experience again.

In 2015, we broke ground by sending thoroughbreds from Mainland China to America. The value of this was reinforced when Beat of the Drum won at Santa Anita and became the first horse from China to win in the U.S. That triumph stirred a lot of emotion and encouraged members to look to race in America in CHC silks. Beat of the Drum was an ambassador, if not for her, we may never have raced Abel Tasman or Justify.

Beat of the Drum was an ambassador, if not for her, we may never have raced Abel Tasman or Justify. - Teo Ah Khing

Justify’s Triple Crown triumph has elevated CHC to a level in America that is beyond our expectation and for that we will always be thankful. It also helped promote American racing to our members and, in time, the impact of that will play out with greater involvement at all levels in the U.S. industry. I fully expect more Chinese will participate in the U.S. because Justify won the Triple Crown in CHC silks.

WATCH: Relive Justify's triple crown glory