- Location: Hong Kong
Most people in Hong Kong are fond of gambling on horse races as it is one of the only legal avenues for gambling in the region, as well as betting on rugby. The races are held from September to July each year. It is more about entertainment than gambling for Hong Kongers.
Horse racing is one of the most popular spectator sports in Hong Kong. The horse races in Hong Kong have a long history and there are now two major racecourses in Hong Kong, one in Happy Valley just to the east of the city on Hong Kong Island, and in the town of Sha Tin, north of Kowloon.
History of Horse Races in Hong Kong
British troops stationed in Hong Kong were the first to organize horse races. Back then, the Happy Valley Racecourse was a simple track on reclaimed marshland and the first races were held in 1846. Over time, the track and the land around it were slowly developed. Night racing was introduced to Happy Valley in 1973, and in 1996, the Hong Kong Jockey Club and Museum was opened at Happy Valley. The Happy Valley racecourse currently seats 55,000 people.
Happy Valley was Hong Kong's only racecourse until 1978, when the Hong Kong Jockey Club built the more modern Sha Tin Racecourse. The Sha Tin Racecourse is larger than the Happy Valley Racecourse and was specifically built to run world-class horse races. Setting a record for the world's largest Diamond Vision screen, the Sha Tin Racecourse has a capacity of 80,000 people, and hosts the most important racing event in Hong Kong: the Hong Kong International Races held every December.
Along with dragon boat racing and the Rugby Sevens, horse racing is one of HK's major sports.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
The Hong Kong Jockey Club was founded in 1884 as a non-profit body to organize social and entertainment activities, along with gambling events, for Hong Kong’s ruling.
Gambling on horse races became a huge hit with Hong Kong's citizens. More than that, horse racing actually built some of Hong Kong. In 1955, the Jockey Club decided to devote all its surplus each year to charity and most of Hong Kong's public parks, zoos, recreational facilities, and charities were built using their donations.
It is rather a unique organization and is part of the reason Hong Kong’s taxes are so low. They Jockey Club is also responsible for making the gambling season fun, since it is more like a public recreational organization.
When and Where are Hong Kong Horse Races Held?
Horse racing season in Hong Kong is between September and July each year and the races are some of Hong Kong's most popular events.
Plenty of people have fun at these races, and even though Hong Kong's horse races now have the highest average turnover of all horse races worldwide, they're more than just gambling events. For the people of Hong Kong, horse races are about having fun in the company of friends, dinner, and enjoying a night out.
There is even a Racing Museum in the Happy Valley racecourse where visitors can learn about the history of the sport and the Jockey Club. So for the many residents of Hong Kong and tourists alike, the horse races are some of the week's highlights.
- Race Schedule and Events: Schedules and events can be found on the Happy Valley and the Sha Tin racecourse websites respectively.
- Times: Day - 1st race 12:45 - 1:30 pm. Night - 1st race on Wednesday is at 7:00 - 7:30 pm; and the 1st race on Saturday or Sunday is at 5:45 - 6:45 pm.
- Bet: The minimum bet is 10 HKD.
Chinese New Year Horse Races in Hong Kong
Over 100,000 fans pile into Sha Tin racecourse on the third day of Chinese New Year for what is undeniably Hong Kong's most popular horse racing event; the Chinese New Year Cup.
On this special day, the Hong Kong Jockey Club also hosts a full program of traditional festivities, complimenting Hong Kong's biggest horse racing event.
See more on Chinese New Year in Hong Kong.
How to Experience the Famous Hong Kong Horse Races?
To make the races even more accessible and enjoyable, the Jockey Club has set up a “Horseracing Classic Tour”. For a fee of about 800 HKD (about 105 USD), you get picked up and transferred to the stadium where the races are being held. The Sha Tin stadium and the Happy Valley stadium usually alternate.
The two pick-up points are at the Excelsior Hotel in Causeway Bay and at the YMCA in Tsim Sha Tsui. People are taken to the Visitor’s Box and have a buffet meal. People also get some discounts and a 30 HKD betting voucher.
Transportation to Happy Valley: To get to Happy Valley, there are several ways. Travel isn’t difficult because it is only about two kilometers from Central District.
- MTR: You can take the MTR (subway) to the Causeway Bay Station. Use Exit A. You can walk or take minibuses from the station.
- Tram: Taking the Happy Valley Tram would probably be the funnest and quickest way to get there. The scenic ride costs only two HKD (about 25 US cents). Get on the tram marked “Happy Valley.”
- Bus: Happy Valley has two bus terminals. A number of bus routes service the area. If you cross the bay on the Star Ferry, you can get a bus at the Central ferry terminal. The ferry ride itself is worth the time and the approximately 2 HKD ticket price to see the city and enjoy the boat ride.
Transportation to the Sha Tin Racecourse: To get to the Sha Tin Racecourse, the best way is via the MTR East Rail Line (the “Blue Line”) from Tsim Sha Tsui East Station. On race days, there is a special dedicated route on the Blue Line that takes people to the stadium. The journey takes about twenty minutes or so.
Discover Hong Kong with Us
If you'd rather spend more time enjoying your vacation than fussing about how to get to the racecourses, China Highlights can help you customize a trip to see the highlights of Hong Kong.
Our dedicated team of experts is able to tailor make a customized itinerary of Hong Kong's highlights according to your own personal tastes. From flights and accommodation, to admission tickets, we've got you covered. Alternatively, take a look at a few of our popular Hong Kong tours for some ideas and inspiration.
- 4 Day Hong Kong Family Tour - Gear up for some family fun at Disneyland and discover Hong Kong's highlights together.
- 1 Day Macau Tour - Experience the charm of Macau, Hong Kong's laid-back neighbor.
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