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冠军赛马迎接“配种之年”

更新时间:2014-1-28 15:24:52 来源:华尔街日报中文网 作者:佚名

Year of the Horse Breeder
冠军赛马迎接“配种之年”

Christopher Tsui is gearing up for a strong year of mating.

The auspicious Year of the Horse is approaching, and the Hong Kong-based private investor sees the possibility for more interest in one of his long-term investment projects: a champion race horse with a potentially lucrative career in breeding.

Mr. Tsui, who - like many wealthy Chinese - divvies up his time between China and Europe, is building a roster of clients to mate with his stallion, an Irish thoroughbred named Sea the Stars.

The muscled coffee-colored stallion won six of Europe's most renowned races in 2009, including France's prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, becoming one of the most acclaimed flat racers in decades.

The demand for his offspring is burgeoning in Europe, as horse owners want their mares to bear prize-winning colts that will mimic Sea the Stars's success. His races have won prize money of roughly 6 million euros ($8.2 million) in just two years of racing that began in 2008. (The prize money was won entirely in 2009.) Mr. Tsui retired Sea the Stars after his winnings to prepare him for a breeding career, and already in the past several years the stallion has fathered around 300 foals.

But Mr. Tsui, 32 years old, hopes the numbers will grow this year.

The most likely candidates to afford an 85,000 breeding fee for Sea the Stars are China's bastions of millionaires. Over the past several years, horse-industry insiders have looked to China as the next big market to save the sporting events that have in recent years been hard-hit by economic woes. Wealthy Chinese, who are exploring new hobbies and ways to invest their money, are likely horse-buying candidates.

But they may also be the most difficult to lure, industry insiders say. While China in 2008 lifted its 60-year ban on horse racing, paving the way for Olympic events and new jockey clubs, betting on events remains forbidden. Would-be horse-racing watchers have found little interest without the gambling, causing some tracks to close down. A course that was built a decade ago in the city of Nanjing has since been turned into a parking lot.

'For years, we've been the only Chinese owners racing at the highest level internationally,' said Mr. Tsui, who has spent the better half of his life outside of his native Hong Kong, racing horses in France, the U.K. and Ireland. He notes that many Chinese have looked for investments overseas rather than hobbies, and horse racing is a risk with the potential of little payoff. The biggest reward is the rush of emotions during a race, he said.

'The three minutes when your own horse is on the racetrack is probably the most exciting three minutes you will ever have,' said Mr. Tsui, noting that it's a far bigger rush than his days of playing professional golf. Mr. Tsui played in the Canadian professional tour in 2003 but left to pursue a degree in business management at Cass Business School in London.

Still, there are hopeful signs that an appetite for the sport is building out of China, Mr. Tsui said, noting that there have been inquiries about Sea the Stars from mainland China. 'Obviously, with wealth there's more interest,' he said.

Mr. Tsui also believes he may be able to draw Chinese buyers by winning more races this year. Many of Sea the Stars's 300 offspring are hitting their prime racing age (3 years old) this year, and beginning in April they will compete in some of Europe's top races.

If they win, many Chinese and others may be chomping at the bit to create more little Sea the Stars, Mr. Tsui said.

崔家亮(Christopher Tsui)正在为爱马新一年的配种做准备。

吉祥的马年即将到来,这位常居香港的私人投资家在自己的一项长期投资品中看到了增收红包的机会——他的冠军赛马或许能通过配种为他带来丰厚的利益。

和许多中国富人一样,崔家亮也频繁地往返于中国和欧洲两地。他正在为他的种马——一匹名叫“海都之星”(Sea the Stars)的爱尔兰纯种马招揽顾客。

这匹身形健硕的咖啡色种马曾在2009年赢得法国凯旋门大赛(Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe)等六项欧洲顶级赛事的冠军,是数十年来平地竞速赛中最受好评的马匹之一。

在欧洲,海都之星的客户络绎不绝,马主们都希望自己的母马能孕育出一匹再创海都之星那般辉煌成绩的骏马。海都之星从2008年开始参加赛事,仅仅两年时间就赢得了大约600万欧元(820万美元)的奖金(全部在2009年赢得)。海都之星退役后,崔家亮为这匹良马的配种生涯做起了准备,几年下来,海都之星已经成了大约300匹马驹的父亲。

但32岁的崔家亮希望这个数字能够在今年继续增加。

那么谁最有可能付得起8.5万欧元的配种费?中国富豪。由于近年来的经济危机使赛马运动受到重创,过去几年,业内人士一直把中国视为拯救这一运动项目的下一个重要市场。对于正在培养新爱好、挖掘新投资机遇的中国富人来说,购买马匹可能是个不错的选择。

然而业内人士认为,这些人也可能是最难吸引的客户。2008年中国结束了对赛马长达60年的禁令,给奥运会赛马项目和新的赛马俱乐部扫清了障碍,但赌马依然被禁止。没有博彩活动,那些本来有意观看赛马的人就失去了兴趣,一些赛马场不得不关门闭业。10年前在南京建的一个赛马场如今已变成停车场。

崔家亮说:多年来,我们一直是国际顶级赛场上唯一能够看到的中国马主。他法国、英国和爱尔兰参加赛马比赛,大半生都不住在香港老家。他说,许多中国人在海外寻找的是投资机会而非兴趣爱好,赛马作为一项投资可能收益甚微,最大的收益是比赛时澎湃的心情。

崔家亮说,自己的爱马奔跑在场上的那三分钟,可能是你一生中最激动的时光。他说这远比他参加职业高尔夫运动要刺激得多。崔家亮2003年参加了加拿大职业高尔夫巡回赛(Canadian Professional Golf Tour),但后来退出了这一体育项目,前往伦敦卡斯商学院(Cass Business School)攻读工商管理学位。

不过崔家亮说,还是有迹象表明中国人对赛马的兴趣正在增强。中国大陆已经有人向他询问海都之星的情况。他说,有了财富,人们就有了更多的兴趣。

崔家亮还相信,如果今年能赢得更多比赛,他或许能吸引到更多中国买家。海都之星的300匹马驹中有许多已经到了参加赛马的黄金年龄(三岁),从4月份开始他们将角逐欧洲顶级赛事。

崔家亮说,如果它们能赢得比赛,中国等地的众多买家可能会热切地希望培育出更多“小海都之星”。

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