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Horse Racing To Expand in China

December 31, 1998

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) _ A new $256 million horse racing complex is planned for China, giving the sport a more modern look in the nation.

Australian officials agreed Thursday to build the project in Dalian, on China’s northeast coast.

``We have a memorandum of understanding to build a race course and we are going to provide all the expertise to do it,″ said Peter McLellan, a member of the Australian parliament.

``It is going to happen. It is not pie in the sky. We have a permit from the central Chinese government to do it.″

Track officials, managers, veterinarians and other racing experts from Australia will visit China to train people. About 500 horses will be shipped from Australia to China.

Construction on the 6,600-foot race track, to be built at the Golden Pebble beach resort near Dalian, is expected to begin in early 1999.

Introduced to China by British traders in the 18th century, horse racing was banned when the Communists seized power almost 50 years ago.

Though gambling is still banned, officials at the Beijing and Guangzhou jockey clubs get around that by describing the practice as a ``horse racing intelligence competition.″

At the Xiang Village racecourse in Beijing, signs exhort patrons to observe the central government’s instructions outlawing gambling.

The signs are prominently displayed near the long lines of Chinese eager to bet with the on-course bookmakers before each race.

Update hourly