After a very short rest we left the hotel at 5.15 pm and took a tram to Happy Valley in order to spend the evening at the Hong Kong Jockey Club ‘Happy Wednesday’ race meeting. We spent a memorable evening here on our last visit to Hong Kong and were eager to return.
Ground entrance costs HK$10 (90p) which entitles spectators to view from the rails or seats at ground level but these seats cannot be reserved so if you leave them other people can sit down. A better option is to upgrade to seats in the Grandstand costing a nominal HK$20 each (£1.75) and as we were early our allocated seats were on the front row near the winning post and enclosure. The seats (pictured above) have a desk in front and are available in pairs and they are booked out for the entire evening so that we could leave them and return as we wished.
Included in the ticket price is a comprehensive race catalogue with detailed information on the horses and jockeys. There were 8 races during the evening and we decided to have a small bet on each one. We glanced at the race catalogue but rather than studying the form we selected horses on the following criteria -most attractive colour of Jockey’s outfit, nicest name of horse and country of origin of the horse!
We decided to make the minimum bet on each race HK$10 and completed the betting slips as best we could but found them very confusing. It was then off to one of the cash desks to pay and place our bets. Despite the fact that we think of ourselves as being reasonably intelligent, we failed miserably at completing the betting slips but a very polite steward helped us out and filled them in correctly for us.
We are not gamblers and we’ve never been to any other race meeting than Happy Valley but having a tiny flutter on each race added excitement to the evening. The racing commenced at 7.15pm as darkness fell. It’s an amazing spectacle seeing the race track surrounded by high rise buildings and the atmosphere is electric – I’d recommend it to everyone visiting Hong Kong.
There’s no danger of becoming bored as before each race the horses are paraded in the enclosure, the race then takes place and is then replayed on the giant screen. Races start at 30 minute intervals and in between a band play live music, it’s all very jolly. There’s champagne and wine bars but as it was hot we quenched our thirst with pints of lager and tucked into giant hot dogs (this evening being our only concession to western food).
During Race 7 a horse pulled up lame and it was impressive to observe the animal’s welfare was attended to promptly. Stewards erected privacy screens around the horse and a land rover with a horse box ambulance arrived quickly and the horse was driven away to the vets. An announcement at the end of the race meeting stated that thankfully the horse had recovered and all was well.
The race meeting finished at 11.15 pm and we’d had a splendid time even though we didn’t win any money! Our selected horses were never last, our best result was third but it didn’t matter we’d had so much fun.
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