Horse racing in Wuhan 2Horse racing in Wuhan 2

At first glance, the Wuhan Open Horse Racing started back up in October after the city lifted its blockade, just like horse racing elsewhere in the world.

The tournament has purebred horses named `Freedom Fighter`, or `Beautiful`, the jockeys wear colorful racing shirts, and the audience holds a board to choose which horse will win.

A match in the Wuhan Open Horse Racing Tournament on November 21.

Instead, people will scan the QR code on their phone and choose the winner.

In addition, the reward can also be cooking oil, phone recharge card, rice cooker or car.

`Here, unlike other countries, the most fun thing is watching horse racing and immersing yourself in the atmosphere,` said the 65-year-old man who lives near the racetrack.

Jin Lei, who came to watch with two friends, said this was his first time going to a horse race and was very nervous to `be close and feel the power of the horse`.

`I came to see it because of the new feeling,` said Lei, 27, a medical consultant.

Admission costs 50 yuan (8 USD).

Wet and cold weather affected the final racing days of the horse racing season in Wuhan.

Jacky Wu, president of Lucky Oriental Horse Racing Group, the company that builds and operates the racetrack, said there are normally 3,000 to 5,000 spectators.

In other countries, spectators can drink alcohol at the racetrack.

Wu said Wuhan has a long history of horse racing, because the British used to come here to trade.

`The first racetrack in Wuhan opened in 1864 and there was a time when four racetracks operated together,` he said in his office overlooking the sandy racetrack.

According to Wu, although other parts of China also have horse racing, especially in remote areas such as Xinjiang or Inner Mongolia, Wuhan is the country’s `center of Western standard horse racing`.

However, like every other sport around the globe, Covid-19 hit horse racing hard in Wuhan, causing the season to stop for 4 months.

The city was locked down from January 23 to early April and the race was only re-licensed in October. Xiang Yan, a jockey, felt extremely relieved to be back in the saddle after 76 days of blockade.

`Horse riding is my daily routine and I really miss it when I can’t ride for a long time,` said the 24-year-old jockey.

Horse racing in Wuhan

Spectators wearing masks to prevent Covid-19 watch horse racing in Wuhan on November 21.

After a harsh year, Wu appeared optimistic about the future of horse racing in Wuhan.

`This year is a difficult year for us to organize horse racing in Wuhan. The pandemic is not over yet,` Wu said.

Thanks to the success of the Chinese government in keeping the spread of Covid-19 at a low level, bigger and better plans for the horse racing industry in Wuhan in 2021 are kicking off.

`If everything goes as planned, we expect to increase the level of competition, prize value, the number of foreign jockeys as well as the quality of horses,` Wu said.

`We will continue to invest in the next few years and are very confident in the future of Chinese horse racing. Many other cities have had to stop horse racing, but not Wuhan.`

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