Racing in China, 1891

The Olympic torch is racing through Bristol as I write. We lack images of sports, aside from shots of European tennis parties, and many images of the racetracks of treaty port China. So here is a dramatic photograph from 1891 of the Peking Race Club.

Peking Race Club, 1891, National Archives Collection, Na01-044.

The races were held twice that year, firstly on 17-18 May, ‘on a larger scale than ever’, according to the racing gossip printed down south in Shanghai: ‘There are not sufficient jockeys to ride all the ponies that it is intended to start.’ The event produced ‘one very promising griffin’ (a new pony). This was Belgian diplomat ‘M. Michel’s Le Général’, who ‘won with great ease every race for which he started, carrying off the Maidens, the German Cup, Haikuan Cup and the Champions’. The autumn event was held on 16-17 October, and this is perhaps more likely an autumn rather than a late Spring scene.

There is little yet written on horse racing in China, aside from an affable but informative book by former colonial official, the writer Austen Coates: China Races (1984).

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