Horse racing has been part of the Hong Kong lifestyle for over a century. The Hong Kong Jockey Club has two racecourses – one in Shatin and the other in Happy Valley.
The Happy Valley Racecourse is located across the street from Cosmopolitan Hotel. Its first race was held in 1846. If you are visiting Hong Kong, don't miss the mid-week "Happy Wednesday" race. It is filled with excitement and entrance fee is only HK$10 per person (about $1.30). Tickets are available from men in uniforms at the turnstile entrances on the far right of the racecourse, which means it is not necessary to buy your tickets in advance or pay a hefty sum to get into the racecourse.
I was there on a late November evening. I paid cash and was given a token like the old New York subway tokens. The crowds were cheering at 7:30 pm and the first race was over. The whole place was filled with food, drinks, music and women in kimonos. It was a Japanese night. You could join in the crowd at any time of the night even when the race is on.
Not knowing exactly what to expect, I took my place at the railings on the right. Happy Valley Racecourse was filled with lights from the racecourse and the surrounding skyscrapers. People were on the public enclosure, private boxes and on the ground. It appeared to be a place for mostly young people to hang out near the food and drinks vendors. These may not be betters but were there just for the party atmosphere. Hong Kong Jockey Club's betting turnover is in the billions each year. According to the Club, its average betting turnover per race is the highest in the world.
Eight races are scheduled each Wednesday at Happy Valley’s C Course. There was big money to be won on this November 23rd night. Guests were given a guidebook called iRace. Inside were names of horses and jockeys with color-coded uniforms for the eight races with tips. You will find horses with names like Fighting Boy, Hurry Hurry Up, Super King Star, Call Me Achiever, Jet Set Dragon, Enjoy the Game, Good Thinker, Born to Win and more. The guidebook is easy to follow and shows you the names of the jockeys, trainers, horses, past performances and more.
Here is a video showing the third race on my Instagram feed (taken on November 23rd):
I found a brochure at the Hong Kong Tourism Board's office in Victoria Harbour organized by Splendid Tours and Travel. Guests are picked up at either Excelsior Hotel, Causeway Bay in Hong Kong Island or The Salisbury YMCA in Kowloon. The tour group leaves the racecourse after the end of the second last race to be transferred to the picked up point.
The tour starts at HK$1030 per person including buffet dinner and unlimited drinks. Horse racing season in Hong Kong starts from September to July each year.
One place not to be missed for those who want to know more about Hong Kong horse racing is the Hong Kong Racing Museum located on the second floor Happy Valley Stand.
The Hong Kong Racing Museum offers a great view of the racecourse. In fact you can watch the race from the museum however it is not something that the museum recommends. The museum has the skeleton of SILVER LINING, one of the most famous race horses in Hong Kong, the old jockey scales, trophies and old photos of the racecourse.
We were not there to bet but to experience the passion of horse racing in Hong Kong. I highly recommend a trip to Hong Kong's midweek horse racing at the Happy Valley.