Inner Mongolia Has An Australian Champ
Tuesday, October 20, 2015
Horseracing in China is a challenging business. There is no gambling to support it, a breeding industry in its infancy, little awareness of the traditions of the sport, of its history or its champions and the federal government is wary of embracing it. But in the far north of the most populous country on earth there is a region where there are three times as many horses as there are people – and there’s around 25 million of the latter. One of those is Lang Lin, a man whose mission is to bring horseracing back to China – and one of very few in Inner Mongolia who knows that the Melbourne Cup will be run next week. Lang says he has known about Australia’s greatest race since he was a child and has dreamt of being involved in it. And who could doubt him. He has already won the New Zealand and ATC Derbies with Mongolian Khan, a horse he selected himself, and last Saturday they won the Caulfield Cup. Lang is an entrepreneur who owns a chain of restaurants, operates China’s largest stock feed business and is a property developer. The organisation he founded and of which he is chairman, the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Industry Ltd, is committed to building China’s largest horse breeding centre and to promoting horse culture in China. Lang’s confidence in achieving that ambition is reflected in his plan to bring 150 guests from China to watch Mongolian Khan run in the Cup. “Since I was really young, since I was little, I have had this dream of having a horse which can run in the Melbourne Cup,” he told Melbourne’s Herald Sun “I have been playing in this industry for quite a long while and I have a lot of friends who are also in the racing industry, so since I was young I have heard of the Melbourne Cup as a champion turf race, with the most prize money in the world.” Mongolian Khan is just the horse to achieve Lang’s ambition. A one-horse multi-national in his own right, Mongolian Khan was bred in Tasmania, is trained in New Zealand and owned in China. Lang selected him from a ready-to-run sale in New Zealand and paid $220,000 for him, making the most expensive of his 1000-or-so horses that range from thoroughbreds to polo ponies to harness horses, warm-bloods and even miniature ponies. “Mr Lang doesn’t pay a fortune for his horses,” said Mongolian Khan’s trainer Murray Baker. “They’re mostly from the middle price range, he’s shown it can be done.” Mongolian Khan is a son of another international success, Holy Roman Emperor, and on Saturday took the stallion’s stakes-race tally to 100. Holy Roman Emperor, who stands at Coolmore’s Australian base in the Hunter Valley of NSW, has had G1 winners in seven different countries and stakes winners in 14. “He’s a truly international stallion, he’s getting winners everywhere, we’re lucky to have him here again,” said Coolmore’s Sebastian Hutch. Holy Roman Emperor stood for 20,000 euros in Ireland last season, making him look something of a bargain at $22,000 in Australia. He also produces horses who have shown ability on all surfaces and over a range of distances. From Mongolian Khan, who Baker says is going to relish the 3200m of the Melbourne Cup, to G1-winning US sprinter Rich Tapestry, to English 1000 Guineas winner Homecoming Queen to the champion Hong Kong middle distance performer, Designs On Rome, he has most bases covered. As much as the Mongolian Khan story is about high-rolling Chinese businessmen and globe-trotting Irish stallions, it also highlights the role of smaller breeders in the Australian industry. The horse who is shaping as the best stayer produced in Australia this century, was bred by Graeme McCulloch at his Grenville Stud at Whitemore south of Launceston in partnership with Coolmore Stud. When the colt was put through the sale ring at the Inglis weanling sale in Sydney in 2013, McCulloch bought it back for $9,000 to buy out Coolmore’s share. “I sent the colt to New Zealand and sold him at the yearling sale for $140,000, but he was resold at a ready to run sale for $220,000 and purchased by his present owners the Chinese syndicate the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Syndicate managed by Mr Lin Lang,” he said. While he is no longer a part of the Mongolian Khan team, McCulloch and his wife Christine have continued to enjoy the ride from close up. Lang invited him to New Zealand for the colt’s first Derby win and the breeder and his wife were in Sydney for the ATC Derby. And last week they were asked to come to Caulfield. “The horse’s owners said I had to go to Caulfield because they believe I am his Group One good luck charm,” McCulloch said. “To be honest I would much rather have stayed at home and watched the race on television ……. but I was pleased to take up their offer.” And he will be even more pleased to be at Flemington next week to see the horse he bred win the Melbourne Cup.