• A student learns how to mount a horse from a trainer in a riding club in Changping.

A student learns how to mount a horse from a trainer in a riding club in Changping. (Photo : www.en.people.cn)

Equestrian sports and horse riding will soon replace golf as the new favorite pastime of wealthy Chinese, according to an investor, who observed that riding sports will attract a big following in the country, showing that the Chinese have also upgraded their tastes.

"China has turned from a tea-drinking country to one that also drinks coffee. Starbucks has developed rapidly in China," Jen Zhongxiang, a partner in SMC Capital China, said.

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"You will find that the number of those into scuba diving or hiking is increasing. Some wealthy Chinese have now traveled to Antarctica to take pictures," Jen said. He added that China has now joined the ranks of developed countries in terms of way of life.

Jen told China Business News that SMC has invested in Rider Horse Company, one of their best investments that had so far received financing of 310 million yuan ($49.9 million).

The SMC partner said that horse riding has become "a light luxurious consumption after golfing." He noted that six out of 10 children from rich families in China who enrol in private schools overseas play piano.

But he remarked: "You can imagine what it will be like if the children say they can ride a horse and have won riding awards."

Senior equestrian commentator Chen Guangxin told China Business News that that the number of equestrian and riding clubs in China has reached about 1,000, based on the information they have collected so far.

Chen took Beijing as an example, where he said there are more than 100 equestrian and riding clubs alone. He said that their clients are looking for fresh entertainment after getting tired of Rolex, Louis Vuitton and golfing.

Chen said that in his club, a horse used for leisure costs between 30,000-50,000 yuan ($4,830-8,050), and if the animal is kept in the club, monthly expenses will be between 4,000-5,000 yuan ($645-805). On the other hand, a racehorse raised for international races will be around 2 million yuan ($322,000).