It is most curious to see the Year of the Horse come up only once every 12 years. In Hong Kong, with the powerful presence of the Jockey Club, every year is marked with a zealous celebration of the horse, thanks to this long-lasting cultural import of colonialism. We have proudly influenced our mainland countrymen in the appreciation of the animal. Guangzhou once briefly cloned the Jockey Club and built its own racing course in the 1990s, although it was closed down because of rigged results and corruption. Chinese tourists now like to tour the racecourses at Happy Valley and Sha Tin and gawk at feverish local gamblers. But they may hardly be able to figure out complicated betting methods with all the curious professional jargon like “quinella,” “daily double” and “trifecta.” Nor are they used to concepts like a “photo finish”—when a few horses dash across the finishing line, the winner should, according to a mindset governed by the common sense fostered by daily life in their country, always turn out to be the one with the heaviest bet on it placed by the son or daughter or mistress of a certain senior Communist Party official. So even if a photo were taken, they would assume higher powers upstairs must be waiting quietly for a phone call telling them which way to call it. And only one race per half an hour is ages to wait. Chinese gamblers prefer the roulette or the Blackjack table, which are as quick and efficient as the guillotine. It is thus no surprise that Macau has long been the winner in terms of turnover, whereas the Jockey Club is secretly worried that the young cyber-aged generation of Hong Kong is less drawn to gambling on horses than their fathers and grandfathers are. The fat American bosses in Las Vegas, rather than the wicked British colonialists, might have the last laugh in the century-long brainwashing of the Chinese. But as the mainland Chinese big spender class sweeps around the world wringing out every drop of resource for themselves with hot cash, things are beginning to change. Nobody would have thought that vineyards in southern France would be falling into Chinese hands faster than Paris to the Third Reich in 1940. The world of racing is not immune. Mainland billionaires are toying with the idea of buying up stables in Australia and breeding their own pedigrees. This would be more challenging and exciting than owning a few vineyards in Provence, where the only wrinkle is deciding which corner of your land to convert into a tea plantation and a golden Buddhist temple. Not far removed from their peasant origins, the nouveau-riche mainlanders are confident that horses can be bred as easily as hogs and chickens. It would be a better education to fly their six-year-old-son and three-year-old daughter by private jet from Xian to Queensland, as the family howls in heated debate over which stop is best for their shopping—Sydney or Melbourne: or perhaps the madam’s insistence on flying straight to Paris as horses on the lawn look boring, especially compared to the latest Louis Vuitton bags displayed in shop windows. The future is here to take the world at a gallop into a more dustily prosperous Year of the Horse. Chip Tsao is a best-selling author, columnist and a former producer for the BBC. His columns have also appeared in Apple Daily, Next Magazine and CUP Magazine, among others.