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A Guide To The Hong Kong Jockey Club

September 13th, 2010 by

The Hong Kong Jockey Club is an iconic landmark in Hong Kong and an organization which coordinates nearly seven hundred horse races at Happy Valley Racecourse and Sha Tin Racecourse. All visitors are encouraged to experience this classic side Hong Kong and get caught up in the thrill of horse racing. Over a thousand horses are trained to compete in these races, and with over fifteen million dollars wagered on every race, the HKJC transacts the most bets in the world.

Happy Valley RacecoursePhoto courtesy by matt.hutchinson

The Hong Kong Jockey Club started in 1884, when the British colonial authority cleared a swamp to construct Happy Valley Racecourse. The city added a second racecourse in Sha Tin in 1978, with capacity for 80,000 people and the world’s longest Diamond Vision television screen at the time. The venue was originally called the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club after obtaining a Royal Charter from Queen Elizabeth II, but has since reverted back to its original name after the city was returned to China in 1997. The Club itself is a government-approved monopoly, a non-profit organization that is Hong Kong’s biggest taxpayer, as well as a forerunner in charitable donations, giving away one billion dollars every year to community projects, schools, public sports facilities and other charities.

Shatin Racecourse
Photo courtesy by Paull Young

To get in on the action, visitors can purchase a Tourist Badge. The badge affords one-day access to the Member’s Betting Halls, track-side section and exclusive restaurants. Tourists can also buy a premium “Come Horseracing Tour” which comes with an unlimited buffet with drinks, access to the Member’s Enclosures and other benefits. The “Racing in Style” package offers even more perks – for a much higher price of course. Whatever option you choose, grab a betting slip, fill it out, complete your wager and enjoy the race.

Night race
Photo courtesy by AntwerpenR

Hong Kong Jockey Club maintains strict rules for betting. For example, those under eighteen years of age are forbidden to bet, and both local and foreign bettors who transact with unauthorized bookmakers in Hong Kong can be charged with a criminal offense. If the thrill of the race is too much, visitors can head off to the Horse Racing Museum, which exhibits a century of racing history and promotes the Club’s various charity works. There are also plenty of posh dining areas, bars and galleries to party away after the day’s races are done.

HKJC betting
Photo courtesy by La.blasco

To get to Happy Valley Racecourse, take the MTR to Causeway Bay station, get off at Exit A and walk along Wong Nai Chung Road. You can also take the tram labeled Happy Valley. On the other hand, the Sha Tin Racecourse is accessible from MTR Sha Tin. The Hong Kong Jockey Club usually holds racing events on Wednesdays nights at Happy Valley Racecourse. On Saturdays and Sundays, daylight races are held at Sha Tin Racecourse. September is the start of racing season, so expect traffic to build up on Wednesdays and weekends as the masses try their luck at the races.

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