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Wednesday night a floodlit oasis of green suddenly appears in the heart of
Hong Kong Island, this is Happy Valley Racecourse. Horse racing "the Sport
of Kings", is the only legal form of gambling in Hong Kong. Here racing is
embraced with unbridled fervor.
There is another racecourse in Sha Tin for weekend meets, but nothing beats the adrenaline-charged atmosphere of Happy Valley. With its tight tracks and high stands, it resembles a Roman amphitheater. As the travel writer Jan Morris once wrote, "Happy Valley on race day is a bitter, brilliant, grasping place."
The tote on a single night at Happy Valley Racecourse is often equivalent to an entire year's betting at racetracks in the West. With westerners now having access to simulcast betting, betting pools are larger than ever before. Race days are ritual like in Hong Kong, where nearly everyone gets involved in one form or another. Gambling on the horses is serious business in Hong Kong, with thousands flocking to the racecourse every Wednesday night.
Lucky locals overlooking the racecourse, host parties on their balconies while looking down on the action. Night races are particularly interesting, with bright lights, a frantic atmosphere and big winning payouts.
An enormous 20 x 5.8 meter video screen surrounding the racecourse displays the races in progress, as well as all racing forms, types of wagers and other relevant details.
Hong Kong's favorite sport is making money, or at least trying to on the races. Billions are spent every year at the Happy Valley Racecourse, as large bettors are attracted to the high class racing. Hong Kong is also known for large fields, the average field size is currently 12.5 starters per race.
Jockey's and trainers come from all over the
globe to contest the races here. Horse's are often imported from
Singapore, Australia or Europe as well.
Happy Valley has been home to Hong Kong horse racing racing since 1846. The city virtually grew up around the racecourse. Happy Valley is known as "pow ma dai", which roughly translates as "horse race place".
Racing not only continues today in Hong Kong, but continues to thrive, with plans to expand racing in Hong Kong. Happy Valley in particular looks to have a bright future. The possibilities are limitless. Happy Valley Racecourse is truly a treasure for Horse Racing fans everywhere.
Entry via Wong Nai Chung Road. Take the Happy Valley tram, which runs east-west along Hong Kong Island, to the end of the line and walk across the road to the track. Alternatively, catch the public railway system (the MTR) to Causeway Bay and follow the signs to the racecourse. Taxis from Central cost about $HK40. More information for tourists.
Be Sure to visit the Hong Kong Racing Museum when visiting Happy Valley. The Hong Kong Racing Museum 2/F, Happy Valley Stand, Happy Valley, Hong Kong