Hong Kong Racing Guide
Although horse racing has been long established in Hong Kong (over 170 years), over the past 20 years Hong Kong has become a dominant figure on the world-wide stage. This growing presence now sees crowds of over 2 million flock to the two main courses in Hong Kong; Sha Tin and Happy Valley. The two race courses offer racegoers a very unique experience with arguably the best world-class facilities internationally.
The Sha Tin racecourse located in the New Territories is the newer out of the two racecourses, opening in 1978. As a racing fanatic, you will find it difficult to find a racecourse in the world with the facilities to match Sha Tin. One of the most recognisable features of the racetrack is the retractable roof which covers the parade ring. This gives racegoers the opportunity to see the horses up close, no matter what the weather conditions are. Being the first racecourse in the world to provide this feature, it really does set the standards for other racecourses to follow! The racecourse is also home to the largest ‘big screen’ in the world. Believe it or not, if you were to combine 4,500 standard tv’s, it would be the same size! Now there is no excuse to miss the action!
Sha Tin hosts a large range of Group One races, including the Hong Kong Derby which takes place every March. Originally the race took place at the Happy Valley, before it was moved to Sha Tin, and with a racing purse of HK$18 million it is an internationally recognised event. The race track also holds the Hong Kong International Races which features the richest turf race over 2000 metres (The Hong Kong Cup) with a staggering purse of HK$25 million.
With the Happy Valley racecourse hosting its first horse race in 1846, it is Hong Kong’s oldest and most historic racecourse. The racecourse that sits on Hong Kong Island underwent vast redevelopments in 1995 in order for the racecourse to compete on the international stage. With a capacity of 55,000, the oval shaped grass track is surrounded by skyscrapers, tall high rises, and seven-storey stands which gives the racecourse a cathedral-like status. With most races taking place on Wednesday evenings, the surrounding floodlights and the backdrop of the city make this a spectacle which is hard to match. A unique feature of the Happy Valley racecourse is the inner field which is home to various football, hockey and rugby teams.
As mentioned above, the majority of the races at Happy Valley take place on Wednesdays, which is where its gets its name - Happy Wednesday! Each Wednesday, the racecourse is converted into an entertainment hub with live music, incredible food and drink. The locals see it as the perfect way to cure their mid-week blues and it is rare to find this type of atmosphere at any other track in the world!
What to do in Hong Kong
Whether your visiting Hong Kong with friends or family, Hong Kong has endless opportunities outside of the race days.
One of the ‘must-do’s’ in Hong Kong is to visit Victoria Peak or more commonly known as ‘The Peak’. This is Hong Kong’s tallest mountain and it offers views to die for! You will have the opportunity to take in the stunning views of Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island and the city’s skyline. The easiest way to access ‘The Peak’ is via The Peak Tram which believe it or not, is over 120 years old!
Tsim Sha Tsui
However, if heights are not your thing, Tsim Sha Tsui is a perfect alternative! Tsim Sha Tsui will provide racegoers with numerous options to help them relax outside of the races. The urban area is made up of restaurants, parks (Kowloon Park), hotels and museums (Hong Kong Space Museum). If you want to get a few holiday gifts for relatives, the area is home to several shopping malls including Miramar Shopping Centre and the New World Centre. The options are endless in Tsim Sha Tsui.
Hong Kong Disneyland
If you’ve taken the kids away with you, what better choice to spend some family time together than at Hong Kong Disneyland. The park attracts over 7 million tourists a year and for good reason too! The park is easily accessible with good links to the Mass Transit Railway which provides good access to Hong Kong Island if your based around the Happy Valley Racecourse.
If you go to visit Hong Kong Disneyland, then you will already be in Lantau Island. Asides Hong Kong Disneyland, Lantau Island is home to Tai O which is a beautiful fishing town. The town is recognised for its traditional Chinese food and provides the perfect chance to get away from the bustling city. Other attractions include the Trappist Haven Monastery and Tung Chung.