There is no greater tease in the world of horse racing than the mainland. It's the Naomi Campbell poster on the barracks wall of the sport. So last week's Xinhua report that legal racing and betting could begin in Wuhan next year will have sent many an imagination soaring to the realms of what could be. If Hong Kong's population of seven million can generate HK$70 billion turnover this season on races in a single centre, the mind can't really be twisted around the concept of racing and betting staged for 1.3 billion. Nevertheless, the Jockey Club's reserved response was probably the only reasonable one. There have been false dawns for organised racing and betting on the mainland before, notably the US$100 million estimated to have been spent on the Beijing racecourse set-up, where everything was under way several years ago until, it seemed, some type of powerplay in the heart of the government saw it grind to a complete halt. Investors have lost plenty of money on the promise of el dorado. Beijing authorities have so much on their plate controlling a runaway economy and the social consequences that go with it, that we can hardly imagine introducing a fresh course of difficulty is paramount in their plans. Serious cases of embezzlement, with their base in problem gambling undertaken on the fringes of China, have occurred often enough on the mainland that it would be easy to imagine authorities not being keen to open the doors within the country. A more rational plan, and surely easier to implement, might have been the establishment of proper access between the mainland punter and Hong Kong's racing scene to test the waters without having to actually bathe in them. Even with the Jockey Club's rule book in hand, establishment of any new racing centre carries certain wild-west problems that go with any gold rush. But Xinhua has long held the reputation as a source with some unofficial/official foundation to it, so it isn't necessarily right to just dismiss the story about Wuhan as the product of adolescent longings. Watch this space.