China’s Horse Sports Industry Has Huge Development Potential
China’s Professional Equestrian and Horse Sports and Leisure Industries have huge development potential says Mr. Cheng Qing, Secretary General of the Chinese Equestrian Association (CEA).
Founded in 1979, the CEA is a national non-government, non-profit organization based in Beijing and a member of the All-China Sports Federation. In 1982, the CEA was accepted as a formal member of International Equestrian Federation (FEI). The organisation’s major responsibilities are:
• to create the development plan, strategy and policy of equestrian sports in China; • to organise all kinds of competitions;
• to formulate rules on the management of racehorses;
• to define the categories of racehorses and to set up standards for their evaluation;
• to organise training programs for athletes, coaches and judges;
• to select athletes to participate in international and national games;
• to organise international games in China;
• to supervise export of racehorses. “CEA’s unique role and position means its recommendations have a great impact on developments in China’s equestrian and professional horse sports industry,” Says Cheng Qing. “CEA regularly invites foreign experts to visit China to communicate with local professionals and to provide education and training.” The CEA also sends Chinese athletes or experts to study abroad so as to keep improving the level of China’s equestrian sports. With Chinese equestrian sports still in their primary phase of development the CEA faces many challenges. How to raise the level of horse and rider training? How to improve horse feeding and healthcare? How to implement successful horse breeding in China to achieve international standards? “These are the major challenges facing the development of China’s professional equestrian and horse sports and leisure industries,” Cheng Qing says. “With the popularization of equestrian sports in China, the demand for high-end products and good horses is rising rapidly.” Cheng Qing cites the consumption of GPA caps is a very good example. “GPA is an international brand which, after promoting through a Beijing based company, we now see a lot of people in China wearing GPA caps when training and participating in competitions.” “In China, more and more individuals are realising that equestrian sports are both very stimulating and healthy, so the number of individual horse owners keeps on increasing,” he continues. As economic growth continues in China more and more people find they have the expendable income to invest in leisure and sport activities which includes the horse industry. “In a word, China’s professional equestrian and horse sports and leisure industries have huge development potential and a bright future.” National statistics put the number of equestrian sports enthusiasts in China at about 300,000 – an industry already equivalent to that of the horse industry in Australia - but some estimates put this figure much higher. Compared to the overall population of China, this number is very small, which reflects the huge development potential. The number of equestrian sports enthusiasts is increasing rapidly with some estimates putting it at 1,000 new club members registering weekly. Equestrian clubs are concentrated in the three big cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, and especially in Beijing. About 60 equestrian clubs have already achieved an advanced standard in Beijing and this number will continue to grow which means equestrian clubs have a very bright future. “Through their activities such as horse and rider training, horse trading and recruitment of new members, they are a vital part of the industry supply chain. Equestrian clubs in the second and third tier cities are now also developing very quickly with the number of new clubs is growing at about 10-15 per cent p.a.” It is an ideal time for international suppliers to enter the Chinese Horse market. The purchasing power of buyers in China’s equestrian industry is already very good and expected to grow steadily in line with the increased interest in the equestrian sports. Although some Chinese equestrian clubs are still purchasing cheap products to serve public members, the demand for high-end products is very strong amongst many individual enthusiasts. “Therefore, it is very important for high-end product suppliers to promote their brand effectively in the Chinese market to let people know the value and advantages of their products so as to encourage consumption in the future,” Cheng Qing continues. With the growth of the local market and the potential for international investment into the industry the CEA believes that it is essential to organise the China Horse Fair (CHF) annually because it effectively builds a platform for both local and international companies to develop new business contacts, exchange information and experiences in this high growth market. “CHF helps to bring into China related international standard and advanced management skills, good horses for riding and breeding, high-end products and valuable experience of the international horse culture,” Cheng Qing explains. “At the same time it helps to promote Chinese culture and good value, locally produced products to the international market. Through the CHF, more products and services have been introduced to the Chinese equestrian market and these have a positive impact on promoting development in the Chinese equestrian sports and notably in developing a higher quality horse stock.” The Chinese Equestrian Association is supporting the CHF 2010 in many ways Cheng Qing says. “Significantly we are planning to organise the National Equestrian Clubs and Race Tracks Conference alongside the CHF 2010.” This gathering will plan to review the current state of development, assess industry trends and plan for the future. The CEA will invite and encourage equestrian clubs to participate not only in the conference and seminar programmes, but also visit the exhibits and exhibitors on display at CHF 2010. “We hope more international high-end products including quality horses will be exhibited at CHF 2010. Topics to be discussed during the seminar should include; Equestrian Clubs Management & Marketing Strategies; Selecting the right tack; Selecting the right horse.” With equestrian sports being most active in Beijing this makes the city the ideal location for CHF 2010. The highest concentration of equestrian clubs are located there and most related competitions are organised in Beijing. “Beijing has the highest volume of trade for horses importing 300-400 horses annually and is home to many of the country’s most professional equestrian sports and riding clubs. As a result Beijing also sees a very high demand for horse riding equipment.” As the political and cultural centre of China, the development of equestrian sports and horse trading in Beijing is leading the rest of the country and therefore Beijing is the best location to stage the CHF 2010.