Darley has been taking an active interest in the development of thoroughbred breeding and racing in China since the mid 2000s. Senior representatives of Darley have been regular visitors to China since 2008, travelling widely across the country to build relationships with leading figures and develop an understanding of China’s thoroughbred breeding and racing initiatives.
After one such visit, Darley, with the support of Sheikh Mohammed, decided to focus on the development of a range of education and training projects, recognising that the development of thoroughbred breeding and racing in any country requires a long-term commitment to build skills and knowledge across a broad base of areas. These were designed to broaden the Chinese understanding of global thoroughbred breeding and racing and also to help Darley learn from the rich tradition of horsemanship in China.
Over the following three years, Darley invited a number of leading Chinese thoroughbred experts and horse owners to its stud farms in Australia, USA and Ireland. Darley also invited a number of influential guests to the Dubai World Cup in March 2009 and 2010 to provide first-hand experience of HH Sheikh Mohammed’s racing showpiece in his homeland.
In October 2011, Darley made the ground-breaking decision to stand two of Sheikh Mohammed’s stallions in China as a gesture of friendship and support for the development of thoroughbred breeding. Jalil, an impressive Group winner in Dubai during his racing career, was offered to leading thoroughbred breeders in the Beijing area while Sousa, winner of the famous Spring Champion Stakes in his native Australia, stood in Inner Mongolia. Having already made a significant contribution to the development of breeding over the following two seasons, Jalil and Sousa were transferred into local private ownership in 2013.
Dubai International Thoroughbred Internships (DITI) was launched in August 2012. This is a unique, ten-month programme which recruits recent Chinese university graduates and immerses them in the world of Darley and the wider thoroughbred breeding industry. By June 2015, there will be 60 graduates from this programme, working across a broad range of industries both in China and across the world.
There have also been a number of Chinese nationals who have undertaken Darley’s flagship Flying Start management training programme, the first being Junling Sun who graduated in 2008. He and his fellow graduates are now taking leading roles in the development of thoroughbred breeding both in China and across the world.
For the past two years, Darley has also worked closely with representatives of horse racing in China to bring a group of upcoming Chinese jockeys to be trained at the home of horseracing in Newmarket in the United Kingdom. This has proven to be a highly successful initiative, with 20 Chinese jockeys to date receiving training at The British Racing School. A number of these jockeys have returned to great success in China and it is anticipated that the best will return to Newmarket for further training this year.
Darley’s education focus has also led to the staging of various events within China. In 2014, Darley hosted two separate educational seminars for leading owners and breeders from across China. Working in collaboration with the Chinese Equestrian Association and Beijing Turf Equestrian Association, leading global experts were invited to present lectures on veterinary care and nutrition.
The 2016-2017 DITI programme was the last in it’s original format. Since 2017, students with a similar background who are seeking a career in the thoroughbred industry will have the opportunity to apply for internships at Godolphin farms worldwide.