The history of horse racing in Hong Kong dates back to the mid-19th century, shortly after the British arrived, bringing with them their love of the sport of kings. Although in the early days it was only accessible to the rich and powerful, over the decades it became less exclusive and was enthusiastically adopted by the local population.
Happy Valley during the racing season (September to July) is a great place to spend some time in the lively company of thousands of cheering punters, in complete contrast to the more serious atmosphere of American or British racecourses. Here there are no high fashion dress codes or corporate hospitality, and the focus is very much on having fun. Most of the races are held at night, with the bright lights creating a dramatic setting and trackside beer tents and food stalls adding to the excitement. In between races, the party continues with live music and entertainment to enhance the betting frenzy. The levels of betting range from quick flutters to some serious professional gambling. The Hong Kong Jockey Club website contains some helpful information on the different kinds of bets and how to place them, so check before your visit if in doubt.
Several prestigious events are held throughout the season, such as the Hong Kong Derby, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup and the Hong Kong International Races, where the competition is more intense and the cosmopolitan crowd is glamorous and well-heeled. But at a regular meeting, you can enjoy a fun night out with the local crowd at a fraction of the price. You can also take a free walk around the grounds during the day to enjoy the views.
Happy Valley is on northern Hong Kong Island and the closest MTR station is Causeway Bay. If you’re not in a hurry and want to save your pennies for the tote, take the scenic route by tram instead.
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