Business woman Vicky Xu poses with a black horse

Vicky Xu with one of her racehorses

portrait of LUX Editor at Large Gauhar Kapparova

LUX Editor-at-Large, Gauhar
Kapparova

Vicky Xu, the head of Hong Kong venture capitalists Global Group’s new Lifestyle & Sports Club, has brought her lifelong love of horses to bear on the exclusive benefits the club offers its members. She tells LUX Editor-at-Large Gauhar Kapparova what it takes to make her club that bit different and how to turn a horse into a winner

Vicky Xu is vice chairman of the Global Group, the Hong Kong-based venture capital investment company, and CEO of the group’s Lifestyle & Sports Club. A citizen of the world with a passion for horses, she tells LUX Editor-at-Large Gauhar Kapparova about her motives for launching her new sports and horse-racing club, offering private members exclusive access to some of the greatest equine and sporting events – and ensuring a happy life and eventual retirement for the horses.

LUX: Where did your love of horses begin?
Vicky Xu: It all started in Mongolia, when I was eight years old. My first riding experience took place during a summer holiday with my father. Mongolia’s horses can be wild, but I remember talking to the horse before climbing on its back in an attempt to calm him, asking that he be gentle, as it was my first time to ride. Horses are renowned for being sensitive to human emotions and interacting with people. As a result, I had an amazing first-time experience on horseback, and since then I have been in love with horses and continue to ride in Hong Kong and London.

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LUX: With so many members clubs now in existence, how is the Global Group Lifestyle & Sports Club different?
Vicky Xu: It is designed for anyone around the world who wants to experience prestige privileges in addition to participating in world-class sports and thoroughbred racing events as well as networking and entertainment. The club offers unparalleled benefits to our members.

The club will hold 20 outstanding horses and the number will increase based on the number of members. Our stable has been expertly bred and trained and will participate in Royal Ascot and other important events such as Newmarket’s Guineas and July Festivals, York’s Dante, the Ebor Festival and Glorious Goodwood. Aside from these events, the club’s horses will also have the opportunity to participate in top horse-racing events in Europe, such as the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and Le French May. Members can share in net prizes won by the Club horses as well as experiencing these top international events in person.

Each year the club will either organise or provide access to a minimum of 12 events for members. While major race meetings will always be a highlight, with members attending events in the UK, France, Dubai and the US, other sporting offerings will include premier car-racing events such as Goodwood Revival and the Goodwood Festival of Speed; the Wimbledon tennis championships; a selection of exclusive, invitation-only gatherings such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Christmas Dinner in Buckingham Palace and the amfAR Gala in Cannes. There will also be an annual gala dinner held at the Palace of Versailles.

We also offer our members the opportunity to create their own tailored experiences. These include the chance to meet with world leaders, captains of industry, and the superstars of fashion, entertainment and sports.

Guests at royal ascot pose with jockey on the track

Vicky Xu with Johnny Hon (far left), the chairman of Global Group, and Ed Dunlop (far right), the trainer of Hon’s horse Global Giant, ridden by Gérald Mossé at Ascot

LUX: What are the challenges of running an international members club?
Vicky Xu: There are literally thousands of details that must be attended to daily to ensure the execution of the highest levels of service to our international members. While most of our events are exclusive and by invitation only with limited-seat availability, we want all our members to have the opportunity to participate in our events. We have no choice but to limit our membership to about 360.

LUX: What are your top three picks of the private events that Platinum members have access to?
Vicky Xu: Exclusive access to a private box in the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot; exclusive access to various world-class events at Goodwood Estate, including Glorious Goodwood, the Goodwood Festival of Speed, Goodwood Revival, and Formula One races. We also provide assistance to attend The Wimbledon Championships, the oldest and most prestigious annual tennis tournament in the world.

The finishing line at Royal Ascot 2018

Business woman Vicky Xu speaking at Royal Ascot in 2018

The finishing line of the Royal Hunt Cup at Ascot, 2018 (above), with Vicky Xu speaking

LUX: Members have the opportunity to have assets in the horses. How does this work?
Vicky Xu: The Global Group already has its own professional team of horse breeders and trainers in the UK, and over the past three years it has been honing its skills in these areas. We have hired a professional team and have a better understanding of the sport, which is of potential benefit to our members. The club will apply this knowledge to its own stable of racehorses, aiming to acquire horses that will race in events around the world, with members sharing in the winnings.

The club’s professional team is committed to its quality breeding programme, with its many years of experience in the pure-bred horse industry and access to advanced DNA technology. The value of this expertise is significant in producing quality race horses. Members will be able to benefit from the added value of horse assets while also enjoying the exhilaration of horse racing.

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LUX: Describe the thrill of a horse race.
Vicky Xu: At Royal Ascot last June, we brought some of our prominent guests and they all enjoyed the perfect racing experience, seeing the horses cross the finish line and capturing the best moments close at hand in the Royal Enclosure. In addition to the club’s 20 horses, the group currently has 40, one of which came fifth this year and was awarded Best Looking Horse on Ladies’ Day.

LUX: Who is your favourite designer to wear to the races?
Vicky Xu: I always believe in the maxim ‘you are what you wear’. There are so many designers I like. The most important thing is to respect the dress code and style etiquette of each race day.

LUX: How have new DNA technologies changed the horse industry?
Vicky Xu: Genetics testing has definitely arrived in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. Our professional team knows well that the modern thoroughbred’s performance is based on a great deal of things including the genetic ability of the horse and environmental influences including the condition of the horse and the track, the jockey, the competition and the race distance. But a good horse also needs courage, heart ,grit and the determination to win. Racehorses are actually professional athletes. We have to train them, love them, communicate with them and respect them.

Woman riding a white horse against a leafy background

Xu riding in Hong Kong

LUX: Why is the club setting up a charitable fund to look after retired racehorses?
Vicky Xu: We want to ensure that once their days on the track are over, the racehorses will be well cared for.

LUX: Where do you see the Global Group Lifestyle & Sports Club in ten years?
Vicky Xu: We’ll explore even more exclusive and prestigious events from all over the world for our members. I trust we can recruit many more international members in 10 years’ time and let more people enjoy the exhilaration of horse racing and other tailor-made events. I hope that one day the club’s charitable fund will be able to provide opportunities for more people, especially children, to enjoy horse riding and its many benefits, such as improved confidence, therapeutic and emotional benefits and the many physical rewards that the sport brings.

LUX: When you’re not at the races or working, what do you enjoy doing?
Vicky Xu: I am a mother of three daughters. Other than the races or working, I really enjoy most of all to spend time with them. Time slips by, so spending quality time together is the best way we have to show each other that we care and that our families are always the most important thing to us.

Find out more: global.hk

This article was first published in the Winter 19 issue.