The anticipation heading into the 2016 CECF Ordos was answered in emphatic terms with roaring crowds, soaring fireworks and new attendance and viewership records set. Attending government figures, local and international captains of industry and leaders of the international thoroughbred industry were left in little doubt about the opportunity that is China’s thoroughbred industry or for the reasoning of this year’s theme of Share the Dream.

Over two days of festivities a direction for the future was outlined that can see thoroughbred racing successfully promoted as a mainstream lifestyle sport. The setting of new records and a series of notable achievements only franked the belief in the potential of this industry. These included:

  • A record CECF attendance of more than 20,000;
  • A record domestic viewership with more than 680,000 (not including audience figures on leading digital platform LeTV);
  • The first time a Chinese race meeting has been livestreaming into multiple international countries;
  • Almost 70 partners participating including the Inner Mongolia Yitai Group, Australian Turf Club, the world’s six biggest auction houses, leading banks, progressive Chinese corporations and premium media outlets;

Mr Warren brings wide ranging expertise to the chairmanship of the International Advisory Council at a time when China’s involvement in thoroughbred racing and breeding is growing exponentially both domestically and internationally. In just over three years the China Horse Club alone has won a dozen G1 races including the Epsom Derby as well as almost 160 individual races across eight countries; it owns in 14 stallions that have either retired or will be retiring in the next 12 months and it has raced champions in partnership including Australia (2014 Longines Co-World Champion Three-Year-Old), Dissident (2014/2015 Australian Racehorse of the Year) and First Seal (2014/2015 NSW Racehorse of the Year).

"I am delighted to accept the post as Chairman of the China Horse Club's International Advisory Council as I believe this dynamic organization has great ambition to own and race horses all over the world at the highest level and associate itself with leaders in the bloodstock industry who share the same goals,” Mr Warren said.

“Horseracing is an entertainment business and the China Horse Club provides access to members in a world that is full of excitement, intrigue and glamour and the forthcoming CECF event in Ordos will give a taste of what is on offer on the world stage.”

Professor Dr. Deiss, the former President of the Swiss Confederation and the President of the 65th United Nations General Assembly, was among the first to wish Mr Warren well in his new post.

“I'm very glad to learn that John Warren will take over as Chairman of the IAC,” Professor Dr. Deiss said.

The festival also proved to be the launching pad of Stage 1 of the Ordos Breeding Project, a commercial breeding and real estate project that is a first for China and provides a blueprint for the development of a breeding centre in China not dissimilar to Kentucky, Chantilly or Newmarket.

“The success of the 2016 CECF Ordos Race Day brings to a close a wonderful weekend of business networking, socializing, cultural performances and thoroughbred racing,” said Teo Ah Khing, Chairman of the China Horse Club and the event’s host, the Yitai Desert Star Horse Industries.

“We have had records broken in several key areas and drawn influential people from almost every corner of the world to Ordos at what is our first event hosted at the Ordos Yiqi Racecourse. That is a great testament to the leadership of the Organizing Committee of the Ordos Nadam, to Ordos City Government and Yiqi Government.

“There is a great deal of promise in China, there is a growing passion for the sport and its lifestyle and this weekend has been a demonstration of that.”

The Honorable John Warren, Her Majesty The Queen’s Bloodstock and Racing Advisor and the newly appointed Chairman of the China Horse Club’s International Advisory Council, was among the many who were impressed by the atmosphere the weekend created and by the interest from the international community.

“It gives me great heart to see leaders of the Thoroughbred industry of America, Great Britain, Australia, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Russia, that have come here to Ordos this weekend,” Warren said in his speech during the CECF Gala Dinner.

“This shows the kind of appetite and interest people in racing have, all over the world, to develop relationships in our sport [with Chinese interests]. We’ve seen the ability of the Chinese to create great successes in sport, like boxing, tennis, table tennis, and of course the Olympics. And most recently we’ve seen it with football.

“With the appropriate support, there’s every reason to believe the Chinese can be equally successful in the Thoroughbred business. It’s appropriate that this nation, which has over 5,000 years over equine history, is synonymous with the horse.”

The growing international footprint of the CECF was well demonstrated by the final race results with victory falling to an international cast of jockeys from Great Britain (Daniel Muscutt), Australia (Michael Cahill), China (Qin Yong) and Russia (Myrzabek Kappushev). The CECF Race Day was supported by the Malaysian Racing Authority.

Elliott Walden, President of WinStar Farm, was attending his first CECF and was suitably impressed. He told The Bloodhorse that he can see racing in China as “a vision that can just explode here one day like it is in Europe or Australia or in the United States." A growing tally of partners share Walden’s sentiment for both the CECF and China at large.

“Festivals like the CECF Ordos are not possible without considerable support from government and from partners,” said Eden Harrington, China Horse Club Vice President and Head (Partnerships/Membership).

“We continue to enjoy wonderful support from thoroughbred industry leaders like Inglis, Goffs, Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, Magic Millions, Tattersalls, Keeneland, Arqana and New Zealand Bloodstock and we have added to this core support with the involvement of the Inner Mongolia Yitai Group, Australian Turf Club, CDP, BBX, LeTV and many more.

“The feedback to date from partners has been wonderfully encouraging and what is exciting is that we know how we can create even more engaging occasions for these partner in the future.”