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Olympians set, now industry ready to saddle up
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Chinese equestrian officials say now that local riders have qualified for the Olympics it is time to further promote the sport and the Chinese horse-breeding industry.

The inaugural National Horse Racing Tournament for Chinese Native Horses will be staged on July 18 and 19 at the Horqin Right Wing Middle Banner, Hinggan League of the Inner Monogolia Autonomous Region, filled with vast pastures and boasting thousands of years of horse-racing tradition.

Riders not only from professional teams and CEA registered organizations, but also amateur and non-registered clubs are invited, encouraging broad participation.

Participants will compete in three groups: Chinese Mongolian Horses (5,000m and 10,000m), other Chinese native horses (1,000m, 2,000m, 3,000m) and trotting (2,000m and 5,000m).

"Through this tournament, we are trying to build up the pedigree of China's native horses and to promote the local horse breeding industry," said Cheng Qing, director of the Chinese Equestrian Association (CEA).

Cheng says the history of horse breeding in China dates back several thousand years. He says China also has many good purebreds, such as the Chinese Mongolian, the Yili (from the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region) and the Hequ (from Gansu province).

But due to the limited popularity of equestrianism in China, the country lags far behind in the breeding and training of horses compared to countries like the United States, Australia, Britain and Japan, where the industry has developed a significant economic base.

"Thanks to economic development in China and the improving living conditions of Chinese people, and especially as host of the Olympic Games, the sport has begun to attract more attention and this is a good opportunity to promote the whole industry in China," Cheng said.

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