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Hot to trot: Students to learn about the ponies
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Students will be able to choose horse racing as a major in Wuhan as the city's educational officials have galloped ahead with approval to set up a course, Changjiang Times reported today.

Wuhan Business Service School, a junior college in the capital of Hubei Province, said it would trot out horse racing as a major this fall to cater to the growing demand for such professionals, the report said, adding that it will be the first school to do so on the Chinese mainland.

The school plans to enroll 40 students specializing in sports for the three-year course, which falls into the category of tourism management, said Xia Yunjian, head of the physical education department at the school.

The course aims to nurture top professionals for horse racing – not only expert jockeys, but also management talents and horse veterinarians, the report said.

So far there are more than 200 commercially run jockey clubs in China, many of which are long beset by a lack of horse-racing professionals. An estimate puts the shortfall at less than 10,000, lower than the expected 100,000, the report said.

Despite the promise of the major, many parents expressed reservations, saying it remains to be seen whether it is worth choosing, the report said.

This is still a new course and parents and students should familiarize themselves with it, the report said, quoting one parent surnamed Guo.

In early January, China's top sports administration approved the mainland's first horse racing lottery that is expected to start in September in Wuhan. At this stage, horse racing, and bets on the races, will only be a trial, according to previous reports.

China decided to move equestrian event for the 2008 Olympics to Hong Kong since it has been banned on the mainland from 1949. Betting on horse racing has been a part of life in Hong Kong for more than a century.

(Shanghai Daily May 6, 2008)

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