The growth of equestrian sport across China is set to be accelerated by the commitment of Fédération Equestre Internationale partner Fosun International, which has pledged to invest in the skills and infrastructure to help develop the sport.
Speaking ahead of last night’s FEI Awards in Bahrain, where the company sponsored The Best Athlete Award, Fosun Global partner Xiaodong Wen, explained that the $85bn conglomerate would support the development of grooms and trainers, riding clubs and a multi-level competition system to encourage and support the millions of Chinese youngsters and their families currently embracing equestrian sports.
Fosun, whose portfolio of sports interests ranges from English Premier League team Wolverhampton Wanderers to a British polo team, yachting and fencing, became closely involved in international horse sport earlier this year with its acquisition of China Equestrian International Development, the operator of the Longines China Tour of Beijing Great Wall as well as events in Belgium and Holland.
Fosun delivers medical, pharmaceutical, travel and financial services to a target market of middle-class families in China and worldwide and, says Xiaodong Wen, the equestrian world provides a key point of connection to that demographic.
“We want to connect with the equestrian community worldwide and sponsoring the best athlete award is an important step,” said Xiaodong Wen. The Award is based on a public poll with over 100,000 equestrian fans worldwide taking part.
“In China when a child takes up riding the whole family, parents and grandparents get involved. Participating children are a real multiplier and help us support our family focus,” he said
“China has a growing middle class which helps support the development of the sport and we are glad to invest in areas such as vocational training for grooms and trainers and the modern management of riding clubs.
“As investors we don’t expect immediate Gold medals because we are realistic and understand that it is a complicated sport and we have to grow the base.
“We want to do the basic work and support the growth of the participant base and the local and international competition structure which will offer opportunities for competitors to develop. We want to build up different levels of competition.
“To do that we need the help of – and to be part of – the international equestrian community under the FEI.”