Thoroughbred horse racing in Hong Kong is a pivotal part not only of many lives but it is vital to the economy, contributing massive taxes and being the major supporter of most charities. Thoroughbred racing in Hong Kong is therefore naturally followed far more passionately than anywhere else in the world.
Hong Kong has two race courses, the main one situated at Shatin is a first class track with facilities equal to any track in the world. A big track with both turf and dirt surfaces and a straight 1200m, statistics show that horses get every chance to win from whatever draw.
However Happy Valley where the lesser grade Wednesday night races are held has to be the most spectacular race track in existence. To understand the full impact of this place you need to make the effort to go and experience it.
Situated on the island amidst major housing and retail complexes, Happy Valley is surrounded by the lights of multi level apartment blocks. It is a relatively small track which affords spectators a close up view of the races giving an I can not believe this place feel to visitors.
Tourists can also visit the Hong Kong Racing Museum at Happy Valley, which provides a fascinating historical insight into how the sport has evolved since its mid-19th century beginnings.
Over the last 15 years or so the quality of Hong Kong thoroughbred racing has developed substantially and nowadays it is difficult to imagine a more cosmopolitan racing circuit than can be experienced here. The prize money is so substantial that the champion riders and trainers from France, England, Australia and South Africa all eagerly vie for the few invitations to ride in Hong Kong. In fact the roster of riders in Hong Kong reads like an Academy Award nomination list for the best jockeys in the world.
Fourteen Group 1 races are run in Hong Kong each season, with the Hong Kong International Race day in December being the richest and most important meeting of the year. The Hong Kong International Races are now generally recognized to be the most international event in the racing world and the main meeting point for northern and southern hemisphere thoroughbreds.
Today the international event has been transformed into a set of four races: the Hong Kong International Sprint over 1200m, the Hong Kong Mile over 1600m, the Hong Kong Cup over 2000m and the Hong Kong Vase over 2400m.
The Champions Mile is on April 29, run at 1600 meters over the Shatin turf course and is already part of an international racing series, the Asian Mile Challenge, which comprises the Futurity in Australia, the Dubai Duty Free, the Champions Mile, and the Yasuda Kinen in Japan, all Group 1 races.
The standard of local thoroughbreds has also risen dramatically as can be seen by the number of hotly contested international races now taken out by locals even in the presence of top echelon European, American, Japanese and Australian thoroughbreds.
With a population of around 1,100 thoroughbreds from around the globe, Hong Kong racing works under an easy to understand handicap system, where gallopers gain or lose rating points from their performance on the racecourse, resulting in close and competitive racing.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club has a monopoly on racing and betting in the territory, a holdover from colonial days, and the HKJC is the territories largest taxpayer and charity. Massive betting pools are involved and Hong Kong racing officials understand that it is imperative to share every piece of information there is with the betting public.
The racing club website has easily the best information I have ever seen with full videos and extensive reporting of every race held. Trackwork data, performance history, weights carried, times, everything is easily found and exhaustively detailed.
To summarise, for any thoroughbred racing enthusiast Hong Kong racing is an absolute must see experience. The city is situated on one of the most spectacular harbors imaginable, hotels are plentiful and first class and the shopping and gastronomic delights are legendary.
Source by Dick Aronson