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TDN – China Horse Club Founder and Chairman Teo Ah Khing has made a name for himself in the worldwide horse racing community as both an innovator and someone extremely dedicated to increasing his country’s awareness and involvement in the sport of kings. He took that commitment and enthusiasm to a new level over the weekend when breaking ground on the island of St. Lucia’s first ever race course, which is the centerpiece of his latest endeavor, the Pearl of the Caribbean.
“I think St. Lucia is geographically located in a position that will play a role for China,” remarked Teo, while sitting in the restaurant of St. Lucia’s St. James Club resort just hours before the ground breaking ceremony. “We are a club that promotes lifestyle and a lot of our members have expressed interest in the Caribbean. Secondly, it could become a new quarantine facility for bringing horses eastward due to its proximity to Miami.”
Teo added, “The new Prime Minister of St. Lucia is a very forward thinking person and he took the time to come to China and learn our racing. I think that in itself shows us he welcomes the eastern involvement in his country.”
Not only was Prime Minister Allen Chastanet present and actively involved in the ground breaking ceremony, but so was His Royal Highness Prince Harry of Wales, who attended the event as part of his tour of the Caribbean islands.
Friday’s ground breaking festivities started with a private tour of the project’s three main sites with a group that included racing dignitaries from across the Caribbean, international advisors and investors. Situated on 700 acres of undeveloped land on the southern end of the island, the $2.6-billion project has several components, all of which aim to heighten St. Lucia’s profile as a premier tourism destination. In addition to the racetrack, the Pearl of the Caribbean will also include several boutique resorts, a marina, a casino, shopping and residential areas, such as waterfront villas.
“I think the island itself has a lot of virtue that for the eastern market is unexplored,” Teo said. “We are using the China Horse Club to spearhead and trail blaze to open up a new market for the island with eastern and south Asian tourists.”
The ceremony took place at the main site where the racetrack will be constructed. Teo’s design consultancy firm Desert Star Holdings designed and completed Dubai’s Meydan Race Course and that same team, known here as DSH Caribbean Star, will be working on St. Lucia’s top level dirt and turf courses. In addition, the racing portion of the project will also include state of the art barns, a quarantine facility, a veterinary clinic and several lush paddocks.
“The dirt track plays a prominent role in our new design,” Teo commented. “The direction respects the Caribbean racing culture. I think it will be one of the most comprehensive tracks, but fitting with the culture of the Caribbean.”