The Chinese Equestrian Association has announced it is targeting its fledgling national team at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

A spokesman for the association confirmed to H&H that the team is now a “more formal one compared to past years”.

Sarah Noble, senior adviser to the Chinese Equestrian Association and mother of China’s international eventer Alex Hua Tian, added: “China has a lot of talented and enthusiastic riders and the more they have the opportunity to compete on an international stage, the more they begin to be noticed.

“Following the 2008 Beijing Olympics, there has been more and more interest in equestrian sport.”

In 2008 at the Beijing Olympics – when the equestrian sections were held in Hong Kong – a Chinese showjumping team competed for the first time. Alex Hua Tian became the first Chinese event rider to compete at a Games.

Jane Carter of the China Horse Fair, held in October in Bejing, added: “This [development of a team] is good news and not unexpected, as the Chinese equestrian horse market is growing rapidly.

China’s professional horse sports industry has huge potential. The number of equestrian sports enthusiasts is increasing, with 1,000 new riding club members registering weekly.”

Last month, it was announced that the Royal Agricultural College (RAC) and China Agricultural University are to establish a new international centre in equine studies in Beijing.

“We see it as an excellent opportunity for both countries,” said the RAC’s Paul Davies.

“There are reportedly more than seven million horses in China.

“With increasing interest in recreational activities involving horses – riding clubs, polo clubs and a growing horseracing business – there is a need for skilled young people to take this sector forward.”

China is hosting more equestrian competitions and attracting international riders. In October China is to host its first Global Champions Tour competition, in Shanghai.

This news story was first published in the current issue of H&H (14 June 2012)