Happy Valley Racecourse
The Happy Valley Racecourse is a horse racing stadium in Happy Valley on Hong Kong Island. It is part of the Wan Chai district.
Back in the 1840s the British found a flat marsh in Happy Valley that was ideal for horse racing. By 1846 the marsh had been developed and made into a horse racing course. The influence of horse racing from the British quickly made the event popular among the Chinese people. Today horse racing is a favourite pastime among Hong Kong people.
There is another horse racing stadium in Hong Kong called the Sha Tin Racecourse. It’s found in the New Territories. Happy Valley Racecourse is the main horse racing stadium in Hong Kong.
Entrance into the Happy Valley Racecourse costs $10 HKD (approx $1.25-$1.50 USD). Once you’re inside, walk towards the racecourse where the races are going to take place. Someone who works there can direct you as to where you want to go. Along the way you may see some booths or shops selling merchandise. Some of these items include a horse stuffed animal, t-shirts, tote bags, and notebooks. It’s a great way to remember your time spent here.
As you walk closer to the racetrack, try to find a TV displaying what’s happening live at the stadium. Take a glance at the screens as you walk and you’ll be up to speed on what’s happening before you get to the racetrack.
Before the race starts, all the jockeys walk into a separate arena with their horse so that everyone can see the horses and the jockeys before the race starts. This is an important part of the race because people need to see the contestants before they decide who they think will win the race. You can get a close up view of the horses and jockeys in here.
When you get to the racetrack you’ll see tons of people holding papers with information about all the contestants in the race of that day. Most people buy a newspaper to get this information ahead of time. You can also purchase a racing program at the racecourse. There will most likely be a big line of people in front of the booths where you can place bets on which horse you think will win the race. The minimum bet is $10 HKD.
Note that anyone under the age of 18 is not allowed to bet or enter an establishment where bets are accepted. Many hotels in Hong Kong offer babysitting services. Take advantage of this service so you can visit the Happy Valley Racecourse with only people over the age of 18.
If you’ve never done this before, it’s probably best to watch the first race and get an idea of how things go. Step outside onto the bleachers and wait for the first race to begin. Watching a race here is more exciting than seeing it on TV. You can feel the energy in the crowd as the horses race out of the gate and go around the track. The crowd is full of people cheering. It gets progressively louder and louder the closer the horses get to the finish line. And now that the race is over, you’ve just experienced a horse race in Hong Kong.
Now it’s time to do some betting yourself. There are all kinds of ways to place your bets. When I was there I placed bets on which horse I thought would win or place in the top 3. I also bet on which horses I thought would place 1st, 2nd and 3rd. When you have money riding on a race, it becomes much more exciting to see the winner. I found myself cheering and carrying on just like everyone else in the bleachers. It was a lot of fun.
My wife (fiancée at the time) was really good at picking horses. She picked the winning horses quite a few times. When we left the racecourse at the end of the day we had won more money than we had bet, the best outcome you could hope for.
A lot of people tend to smoke on the bleachers since they’re outside. If you don’t like cigarette smoke, I’d suggest getting a seat closer to the bottom of the bleachers. Cigarette smoke will have a lower chance of being blown into your face if you’re sitting/standing at a lower spot on the grand stand and in front of these people.
Once you’ve had your fix of horse racing, make your way to the Hong Kong Racing Museum. Here you can learn all about the history of the sport in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Racing Museum is located on the second floor.
You may end up spending most of your day at the Happy Valley Racecourse and you may get hungry. There are concession stands and restaurants inside and the prices are quite reasonable. If you’re looking for somewhere to eat when you leave the stadium, I’d recommend going to Aberdeen where you can try some food at one of their famous floating restaurants.
The most famous restaurant at the Happy Valley Racecourse is the Moon Koon Restaurant found near the Hong Kong Racing Museum. The Moon Koon Restaurant serves Hong Kong Jockey Club Members and has quite expensive food. The restaurant has a really nice view of the racecourse. Unless you’re a Jockey Club member, or know someone who is a member, you may not be able to get into the Moon Koon Restaurant.
If you visit the Happy Valley Racecourse on a day when there are no horse races going on, you might see people playing soccer in the middle oval that the race track goes around. With the limited space in Hong Kong, fields for sports are quite difficult to make. Having soccer fields at the racecourse is just another example of the Hong Kong people getting the most out of their limited space.
While walking down the streets of Hong Kong you may see a small Hong Kong Jockey Club kiosk in a building with lots of people gathered around a TV. These people are watching the races and placing bets on who they think will win. Even if some people can’t get to the stadium for race day, they will find one of these horse racing shops and join in on the fun without having to be at the stadium.
The closest MTR station is the Causeway Bay station. It’s a bit of a walk from the Causeway Bay station to the racecourse, so you can get on a minibus to get there if you don’t feel like walking very far. Alternatively you can get on the Tram that goes to Happy Valley. You can also get here by bus.
Many hotels are located near the Happy Valley Racecourse including the Cosmo Hotel and the Cosmopolitan Hotel. These hotels have shuttle bus services that go to several popular spots on Hong Kong Island.