Gambling is a national obsession in China. In Hong Kong it’s illegal to gamble unless it’s through the Hong Kong Jockey Club. Unsurprisingly then, Hong Kong’s largest single tax payer, largest private charity donor and largest employer is the Hong Kong Jockey Club. If you want to see Hong Kong doing something it passionately loves, head to Happy Valley Race Course on a Wednesday night between September and June.
The race course in itself is pretty impressive. The floodlit loop of sweeping green track is dramatically set against the backdrop of encircling, towering apartment blocks glittering against the night sky. For a bargain HK$10 entrance fee (about 80p) you get access to the public stands and public betting hall. If you’re a tourist and you present your passport, you can pay an extra HK$100 (about £8) to get entry to the Members’ Enclosure but for atmosphere and value for money, I don’t think the public stands can be beaten. Tourists and expats tend to gather by the beer tent next to the race course, for a glimpse of the locals at play and a superb birds-eye view of the action head further up the stands. Races run approximately every thirty minutes from 7:30pm. Get there early, grab a good spot by the railings and study the form ready to place your bets before the first race. If all else fails, my failsafe tip is to choose the horse with the best name.
2 Sports Rd., Happy Valley, Hong Kong Island
+(852) 2895 1523 or +(852) 2966 8111
Google map: bit.ly/JwXuJP
* Natalie is our local for Hong Kong. You can read all about her here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/hong-kong-local-natalie-robinson.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/natalierobinson
She also has her own blog at: www.3badmice.com/
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