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Rider Horse emerges as major buyer of New Zealand thoroughbreds

A new Chinese buyer swooped in at the recent Ready to Run sale and left as one of the top buyers in Australasia¹s biggest auction of two-year-old thoroughbreds.

The company is also stacking up to be one of the top horse exporters in New Zealand.

China Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Group began eyeing horses in New Zealand in June 2012 and has since flown five shipments totalling 460 horses to Shenyang, where they are then transported to Inner Mongolia, says Siyao Zhao, assistant to company president Ling Lang.

In mid-January, the company plans to fly 83 additional standardbred and speed horses to China, all purchased on a November trip to New Zealand.

In total, more than 1500 thoroughbreds were exported from New Zealand last year valued at $130 million, according to estimates from the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders¹ Association. More than 330 of those went to China with Rider.

The company was founded in 2006 and led by Manchurian entrepreneur Lang Ling. He founded the Chuanwangfu chain of restaurants and has a hand in education, manufacturing and property development ventures.

According to the company website, he has a deep passion for horses. The website also says the company's mission is to promote horse culture and the horse industry in China as well as become a global leader in its sector.

Despite the growing number of racetracks in China coupled with growing Chinese wealth, gambling remains illegal in the country.

Rider is building a yet-to-be named racetrack scheduled to open in 2014.

Ms Zhao says the $60 million site will be the first to have both a harness and thoroughbred track in China.

Plans for the new track call for a 1400m outer ring for the gallopers and 1200m inner ring for harness racing.

The company recently received ³significant² investment from SMC Capital China and Shenzhen Chuangdongfang Capital, according to its website. This makes Rider the first company to receive private equity investment in China¹s horse sector, Ms Zhao says.

Shenzhen Chuangdongfang Capital invests in growth-stage companies, according to its website, and averages an annual rate of return of 36% since its inception in 2009.

SMC Capital China invests in energy, advanced manufacturing, and consumer and health care sectors. Investment range from $US2 million to $US20 million, according to the investor¹s website.

Rider claims it is the largest non-farming horse breeder and horse feedstock trader in China. It sells imported horses and provides importing services for private buyers.

The company was the third-highest buyer at this year¹s Ready to Run Sale at Karaka, purchasing six horses for a total of $655,000, including a $220,000 colt. The company is leaving three in New Zealand to race and exporting the other three to China in January.

The firm has also ponied up to hire New Zealand heavyweights in the racing industry. So far, it¹s hired Roger James, Murray Baker and racing hall of famer Graeme Rogerson as trainers for horses staying here to race.

Cambridge heavyweight Graeme Forbes is its only Kiwi trainer in China so far, Ms Zhao says.

Jonathan Hope of Cambridge Equine Hospital advises on equine health, and Wayne McNamara, studmaster for Alabar New Zealand, will return in 2014 to supervise breeding.

UPDATE. 2013-12-02
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