Horses for Courses – Your Form Guide to the Asian Century


When you are punting on this year’s Melbourne Cup, have a bit of sympathy for Australian export businesses who have to make their big bets on international markets in the Asian region.

Like a good punter Australian exporters have to look at the horse, the jockey, the state of the track, and of course, the odds. And it is not just a flutter for them but a major business decision that will affect their livelihood as well as the well-being of those whom are dependent on their business.

Every year, on the first Tuesday in November, horses race for the Melbourne Cup and Australia “stops” for three and a half minutes.

To help the average race goer understand the nuances of exporting, I’ve come up with a “form guide” to runners, riders and the countries Australian business should be interested in.

The favourites and also-rans

Horse number one is Fame Game, a Japanese superstar and red-hot favourite with punters at this stage. If it represented the Japanese market it would be a long standing champion, has been written off by some, but still very capable and strong. Has helped others develop in the East Asian stable yards through outward investment. Also watch for Hokko Brave is like in past Melbourne Cups the field looks like it’s turning Japanese.

The surprise is that Ruling Dynasty, representing China has not qualified. This dynamic colt has surprised seasoned punters with his ability to maintain a fast pace, year after year. But can it keep that pace up as it matures? Some say it is overrated and may have to improve before challenging its Japanese competitors.

Almoonqith is a Dubai visitor formerly trained by champion South African Mike De Kock, now by locals David Hayes and Tom Dabernig. This little known but powerful galloper with an industrious approach has revealed new appeal to punters in recent years.

Irish import The United States arrives with two wins in Ireland. It certainly had question marks a while ago but has now started challenging the field and becomes an up and coming favourite angst Aussie punters with high rates of return.

Gust Of Wind is a lightly raced filly that has made rapid progression, representing Taiwan. She is occasionally overshadowed by her larger neighbour, but she’s a tidy performer who has rewarded loyal supporters well over many seasons.

Next is Kingfisher, representing India. Known for slipstreaming its Chinese rivals but also an attractive performer in her own right and boosted by a free trade agreement next year.

Unfortunately there have been some scratchings in the rest of the Asian field.

Bohemian Lily is a mare which has often been handicapped, representing Vietnam. This is the dark horse of the East Asian field that has put together a string of good seasons in recent years and seems set for even better days ahead.

Mongolian Khan representing much of the middle east. An up and comer but a runner which is coming into his own thanks to ongoing reform of stable practices. But recent fiscal position may cause a scratching.

Archipelago, representing Indonesia, has also been scratched and won’t take place this year, after some difficulties with Jakarta. The quest for co-operation with Indonesia overshadows many business connections, but Indonesia is a huge trade partner for Australia. Punters must they don’t forget about an important neighbour to our north.

So there you have it, your own export form guide for Asia. Fortunately, back in the real world, exporting is clearly not all about luck as much as skill and strategy. It requires good research, innovation, flexibility and good knowledge of your prospective market. And most importantly, the evidence shows that it does pay off.

According to economic research, exporters are, on average, faster growing, more profitable and more productive than non-exporters. Exporters also pay better wages; provide better employment conditions and higher quality jobs than non-exporters. In short, exporting is a good bet for both large and small players in the international trade game but you’ve got to be a stayer in the Asian Century.