Lang Lin

published: 01 Oct 2016 in Movers and Shakers

SELF-made billionaire Lang Lin, better known to some as ‘Mr Wolf’, is a rising force between mainland China and the Australasian thoroughbred industry. It’s hard to describe what he does in this aspect in one word, but ‘enabler’ comes to mind because Mr Lang’s investments, vision and enthusiasm as a racehorse owner, racing industry developer and international connector, continues to inspire and create key business opportunities between China, New Zealand and Australia. 
  The founder and chief executive of the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Group has spent more than $11m since 2012 shipping more than 800 New Zealand racehorses to China, to race and to breed from, with a view to grow the domestic market in his homeland. At the same time he has introduced hundreds of Chinese visitors and investors to his great love of Australasia’s major bloodstock sales and racing carnivals.  
  The highlight so far in Mr Lang’s journey ‘Down Under’ is his ownership of the Caulfield Cup and dual Derby winning hero, Mongolian Khan, a horse he describes as tough, fearless and his lucky charm.

Q: Mr Lang, how would you best describe yourself and where did your passion for thoroughbreds come from?
A: “I am a pure racing fan and horse lover. I am in a minority in China, being a Manchu. This ethnicity has a natural love towards horses. Racing is lots of fun, but I most enjoy watching thoroughbred horses fighting for the win.” 

Q: You are a self-made billionaire with businesses in retail food, hospitality, construction and technology in China, what is the key to your success? 
A: “I think the key is to be honest to my friends and my business partners. I would rather suffer losses than profit at other people’s expense. I also believe in hard work and sometimes you do need a bit of luck as well.”

Q: You have a close working relationship with New Zealand Bloodstock and the wider Australasian industry. Why choose New Zealand as the country to buy your thoroughbred stock from? How did this relationship start? 
A: “Kiwi-bred horses are good quality and a reasonable price. Also, New Zealand is famous for breeding top stayers who win a lot of major classic races, especially in Australia. Importantly, there is the free-trade agreement between China and New Zealand since 2008, which means a zero tax rate to export thoroughbreds to China. That is why I started purchasing horses from New Zealand in 2012.”

Q: I understand you have a particular interest in racing stayers. What is it about the major classic races you admire so much?
A: “I really like 2000m races and beyond. In China most of the featured races are staying races, and by watching the staying races you can enjoy the whole process a bit longer, compared to sprinting races. I think these distances are the ultimate test for a horse too. The winners of these distance races are classic and owning one winner, or more, is a very exciting thing.” 

Q: One of the best and richest staying contests in the world is the $6.2m Melbourne Cup. Is it true that you’ve long held an obsession with Australia’s ‘race that stops a nation’? 
A: “Yes, I have been attracted to the Melbourne Cup for a long time now. Since I was young I’ve heard about this race, which stops the whole nation. I love its scale, prize money and the influence. It’s a very special day.”

Q: So does this mean the Melbourne Cup is the number one race in the world that you would like to win? 
A: “Like I said before, I love staying races but my favourite is the Melbourne Cup. That’s the one I’d love to win most. But it’s also one of the hardest to win!”

Q: How did you get the nickname ‘Mr Wolf’? 
A: “My last name is ‘Lang’, and in Chinese it means wolf, so my staff members call me this and it has caught on elsewhere.”

Q: Speaking of wolf, it’s been reported that you own some exotic animals at home in China. 
A: “Yes, that’s true. I’ve got falcons and wolves. They are intelligent animals, and well looked after.”

Q: Through your passion for horses and racing, and ability to identify and develop a business opportunity, you founded the ‘Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Group’ in 2006. Tell us a bit more about this vision and purpose of the group.
A: “The Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Group focuses on the whole-industrial chain business model, and we get the local farms involved into our business by signing up contractors, which improves the local employment rate and the farms’ income.The Rider Horse Group has now grown into six sections. The New Zealand branch, which is in charge of the horse exporting business where we import to breed, race and sell in China; Breeding Farm in Inner Mongolia; Rider Horse Racecourse in Inner Mongolia; Livestock Trade Market in Inner Mongolia; Rider Horse Feed Mill in Inner Mongolia; and Equestrian Club Management Company in Beijing and Jilin.”

Q: One of the achievements of the Rider Horse Group is the launch of International Mongolian Culture and Tourism Carnival, which is still in its infancy. How did your flagship racing carnival perform this year? 
A: “This year the carnival went pretty well. It’s a three-day-event with more than 30 teams from 11 provinces competing in China racing. There were many international visitors including 58 guests from New Zealand and 11 guests from Australia. We had celebrity performers entertain and on ‘New Zealand Racing Day’ we attracted more than 15,000 people. It was very successful and something to build on.”

Q: Is China set for a bright horseracing future? What do you hope for?
A: “The economy in China is developing fast and the consumption ability is growing a lot. Yes, I do believe that horse racing in China will have a bright future, as people love racing, especially in the minority areas.  “I hope that in the future, horse racing in China could be better organised and developed in line with the international racing industry. We’re only at a beginning stage but I have the sense of mission to make it better.”

Q: Let’s talk about your headline horse, Mongolian Khan. You purchased him at the Karaka NZB Ready To Run Sale along with five other horses, which also included a Chinese Derby winner. 
A: “I was really lucky to get Mongolian Khan. It was actually his movement at the breeze-up and his spirit that attracted me. He was striking. In total I bought six horses from that sale as I wanted a classic type. I kept three in New Zealand and sent three back to China. The one who won the Chinese Derby is by Iffraaj and in 2014 he won six races in a row. We’re still racing him; he won an 1800m race recently at Yulong Racecourse in Shanxi, which was exciting.”

Q: How special was it when Mongolian Khan won the 2015 New Zealand Derby and then backed it up weeks later with victory in the Australian Derby, becoming the first horse since the champion Bonecrusher (in 29 years) to win the Derby double? 
A: “It felt like my dream that had been in my mind for quite a long time finally came true. It was unbelievable joy.”

Q: Did you think he would come back as a four year-old and go on to win the $3.5m Caulfield Cup that same year? How did that Spring Racing Carnival victory feel? 
A: “I was very positive towards Mongolian Khan’s condition before the Caulfield Cup. He ran a nice third in the Caulfield Guineas and was proven over the distance of 2400m. We all felt he was a special horse and looked forward to seeing him run in the Caulfield Cup. It was magnificent after he crossed the line that day. He didn’t let us down and I was very proud. The Spring Racing Carnival is one of world’s best events and to have a horse run during this time is a privilege.”

Q: Do you get nervous before these big races? 
A: “Yes I do get nervous, but also very excited as well.”

Q: Some experts say Mongolian Khan would have gone close to winning the 2015 Melbourne Cup had he not suffered a colic attack. Do you agree? Was that a sad moment for you to let go of the Melbourne Cup dream with him?
A: “Yes I agree, it was a sad moment for all of us including Murray and Andrew, Opie, Sophia and Joe, all of our Rider Horse Group people and even many of my racing friends back in China, but we were very happy he was able to make a recovery.”

Q: Mongolian Khan is now standing at Windsor Park Stud and set for an exciting future at stud, with a book of 140 mares to cover in his first season. What does this horse mean to you and the Inner Mongolia Rider Horse Group? 
A: “Mongolian Khan is like a lucky charm to me and to the Rider Horse Group. I told my staff that we must learn from him, for he is so tough and he doesn’t fear anything at the track. Also he is a milestone for the China racing industry.”

Q: You are an excellent ambassador for the Australasian thoroughbred industry. It’s been documented that you brought out 150 Chinese guests to 2015 Melbourne Cup Day, 50 to New Zealand Derby Day at Ellerslie and many other international visitors to the New Zealand Bloodstock sales. Would this be more than 300 people?
A: “Yes it would be about that. I like introducing my friends, family and business partners to my passion and to share the excitement. It’s a wonderful industry with many opportunities.”

Q: Do you see China, New Zealand and Australia growing closer and doing more business together in the thoroughbred industry in the future?
A: “Yes. It compares to the relationship with Ireland, USA and Japan. China has a strong bond with New Zealand and Australia, especially in terms of horse racing. These three countries have been communicating for many years and have already established a great partnership.   “Back in China, Mr Zhang’s Yulong Investments and the Rider Horse Group also support each other by sending horses to compete at each other’s race meetings too. Horseracing is an international exchange that brings many people together, and we can all learn from each other.” n