In Hong Kong, horse racing is an integral part of the city’s culture and provides a unique atmosphere for city dwellers of all classes to pass their free time. The British introduced horse racing to Hong Kong in 1845, helping build the first racecourse, Happy Valley, in the New Territories area. Each racing season starts in September and finishes in July. Initially, locals used ponies imported from China to compete against one another and it wasn’t until the early 1900s that racehorses brought from Australia were used.
There are two race tracks in Hong Kong: Shatin Race Course and Happy Valley Race Course. Happy Valley Race Course is located on Hong Kong Island, and Shatin Race Course is located in the New Territories.
The Happy Valley Race Course normally has races every Wednesday night. On the second floor of the race course stand, the Hong Kong Jockey Club has set up a museum with exhibitions that depict the origin and anatomy of horses, the construction of the Happy Valley Race Course, as well as the history of the Jockey Club.
Shatin Race Course has 474 races per season, a capacity to hold 85,000 people and 20 stables with the ability to hold 1,260 horses. Sir David Akers Jones, a long time government official in Hong Kong, built the Shatin Race Course in 1978. The race course is equipped with an equine hospital, racing laboratory, equine swimming pool and a riverside gallop.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a non-profit institution that manages the horse racing and betting activities related to horse racing; it was founded in 1884 and is the largest tax payer every year in the Special Administrative Region, currently averaging one billion per year in tax revenues per season. Originally, an exclusive club for the city’s elite aristocrats, the organization is now 23,000 people strong, as its members are elected or nominated.
Check out this link to see the new technology being used by the Hong Kong Jockey Club to place bets and research horses.
The Hong Kong Derby is one of the main races that takes place during racing season and its first running took place in 1873. Prior to 1978, the Hong Kong Derby took place at Happy Valley Race Course but now it is always run at the Shatin Race Course. Over the years, the length of the race has been altered numerous times. The race is run in March of every year and has a purse of 2 million United States dollars. Since 1981, the race has been restricted to horses that are 4 years or older.
Check out this link to watch the 2012 Hong Kong Derby.
The Hong Kong Jockey’s Club ranks jockey’s performance based on how they place in each of the races. Zac Purton, of Australia, aged 30, is the number one ranked jockey for the 2013 year having completed 208 total rides. Of those rides, he has finished first 35 times, second 32times, and third 21 times, earning a total purse of over $40,000,000 Hong Kong dollars.
Check out this link to view some of the other successful jockeys this year.