Located in the southwest of China and capital of Sichuan province, Chengdu is known as the party city: the home of spicy Chinese cuisine.
Famous for its laid back lifestyle, there is certainly a different pace of life here.
One of the country’s important economic centres, Chengdu was recently named the fourth most livable city in China and its international airport is a four hour direct flight from Singapore which runs daily.
The city’ population is about 12 million and growing rapidly, with Sichuan province having 88 million residents: in an area similar to Victoria.
The climate is much milder here, with a short winter followed by a beautiful spring.
Throughout 2009, I have visited this city many times and found the hospitality to be overwhelming. The latest project underway is the construction of the Wenjiang racetrack, a modern course with a capacity for 40,000 spectators, situated just 16 kilometres from the city centre.
Chengdu hopes to commence racing in November 2010 and plans to purchase Australian horses from the middle of next year are in place, while the club is looking for key people to help get racing underway.
Supporting the project are many new equestrian clubs who are developing interest in horse related sports: a very important part of the overall plan for racing.
There are also plans to build breeding centres to reduce the long term need to import so many horses, and this in itself is a huge project. My main host was the Hejing Equestrian club, which has over 1000 members who visit the premises to ride horses, stay in the beautiful accommodation and dine at the five star restaurants. Others just sit beside the river to play cards and drink tea, which is a very popular pastime.
The new racing project is being administered by the Chengdu Sports Industries, a government body which controls all sport in the region. The new sports precinct includes a racetrack, training centre, national basketball stadium, international tennis complex, as well as water sports and theme parks. The volume of construction is amazing and every time I visit, the project is increasing in size. The potential for employment is vast and training programs for future horse staff are being introduced.