It is described as a 'win-win' situation for all. And so it seems as Jockey Club chief executive Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges lovingly takes you through the genesis of the equestrian venue for the Asian Games. Built in a record seven months - work on the site is an extension of an earlier equestrian venue built for the 8th National Traditional Games of the Ethnic Minorities of China - the 152-hectare venue in Conghua, 40 kilometres northeast of Guangzhou, will become a state-of-the-art training centre for the Jockey Club once the Games are over. Win-win is apt. The Games organisers got a ready-made facility for free - it was built at a cost of HK$250 million by the Jockey Club; the mainland gets its first Specific Equine Disease-Free Zone (SEDFZ); and the Jockey Club gets land that it had been seeking in Hong Kong for the past couple of decades to no avail, space that will allow the Club to increase its horse racing population. 'Once the Asian Games are over, we will have a site which is 2 1/2 times the size of Sha Tin and which will become a centre of training for horses in China. Everyone will benefit,' says Engelbrecht-Bresges. It all began soon after the Jockey Club successfully provided the Beijing Olympics with the equestrian venue at Sha Tin, built at a cost of more than HK$1.2 billion. 'One of the reasons why the equestrian events at the Olympics couldn't be held in China was because of the quarantine situation in the country,' said Engelbrecht-Bresges. In the past, horses brought into the country had to be left behind, as was the case with the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, resulting in most teams using local horses. This was always a huge obstacle for the mainland hosting major equestrian events. 'After the success of the Beijing Olympics equestrian events in Hong Kong, Guangzhou thought, 'Why not hold the Asian Games event at Sha Tin, too?' They asked the Hong Kong government but the government said they couldn't do this because the Sports Institute had to be ready for the athletes,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'So the Guangzhou authorities came to us, and asked if we could help as we had the expertise.' Another legacy of the Beijing Olympics was the commitment to develop quarantine facilities to allow the import of horses. That was an agreement undertaken by Bocog - the Beijing Games organiser - and the International Equestrian Federation. The Jockey Club was the perfect partner as it had all the expertise in venue design and operations, stable management and veterinary services. The approach by Guangzhou officials perfectly dovetailed into Jockey Club aspirations as the club had been desperately seeking ways to expand. 'For the past 20 years we have been trying to find additional land for training facilities. Our stables in Sha Tin were built 31 years ago on reclaimed land, which is sinking. We have around 300 stables which are about 1 1/2 metres lower than when they opened,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. 'So when this opportunity came, we took it. We told them [the Guangzhou organisers] we would help with the design of the venue, help with the quarantine and bring our expertise, but we also said they would have to think what the legacy would be after the Asian Games. 'This is not like Europe where you have big competitions all the time. So we talked about a legacy and suggested it should become a training centre for racehorses, so we could fulfil our goals of having a second hub to Sha Tin, expand our training facilities and also help us to redevelop our stables in Sha Tin. They agreed.' It won't come cheap, with the estimated cost of building the training centre and new stables being more than HK$1 billion. Once it is built - the first phase should be ready by 2014 (2017 is the expected date for the whole project to finish) - the Jockey Club could theoretically double its current horse population of 1,180, although the planned number is 1,400. 'When it is fully completed in 2017, we would have the potential to have more races but the other important issue is a lot of owners can bring in their horses and get them acclimatised to local conditions which they can't do now because of limited stable capacity,' Engelbrecht-Bresges said. But first the Asian Games. Nearly 150 horses from 20 countries will take part in the first major international equestrian event on the mainland in show jumping, dressage and cross country events. A test event in September passed with flying colours. Horses crossed the border, went into quarantine and participated in the competition. They were then allowed to return home - a first for China, and one which will make the equestrian events in Guangzhou a milestone for the mainland.