Hong Kong International Races
The Hong Kong International Races is the biggest horse
racing event in Hong Kong. These horse races
are held every year in mid December at the Sha Tin Racecourse in the New Territories.
This event is televised all around the world and attracts thousands of people
to the stadium in Sha Tin.
The event consists of a day of horse races, with 4 of the races being major Championship races. These major races are: Hong Kong Cup, Hong Kong Mile, Hong Kong Sprint, and the Hong Kong Vase. The winners of each of these races win a cash prize in the millions of Hong Kong Dollars.
I attended the 2011 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races (abbreviated as CXHKIR) which took place on Sunday December 11, 2011. This was the second time I had been at a racing event at the Sha Tin Racecourse.
There was an entrance fee of $10 HKD. Each person who entered the stadium was given a free commemorative trucker style hat. The front of the hat was white with all different coloured horses displayed across it. It made for a nice souvenir.
Please note that anyone under the age of 18 will not be able to enter the Sha Tin Racecourse because gamble is permitted here.
There were lots of statues and exhibits on display for the International Races. There were even pictures with the head cut out so you could get a picture with your face in it. It was the closest I could get to being a jockey at the races.
The Hong Kong International Races is a very popular event in Hong Kong that attracts record numbers of people. There were so many people at the stadium that we couldn’t find a seat anywhere all day! The only time we were able to rest was when we were in the food court eating McDonalds. All the seats were taken in the food court and the only spot with room was a table with a bar next to it. This bar is there for people to sit on since there isn’t enough room in the food court to make a full seat. So we had to put our food on the table and sit on the bar next to the table.
I liked how the food at restaurants had interesting names for the menu items. For example McDonalds had the “Big Winner Meal” for Big Mac and “Lucky Double Meal” for a Double Cheeseburger meal. They also had breaded chicken wings on the menu, which I’d never seen at McDonalds before.
The Big Winner and Lucky Double Meals at McDonalds
Of course the main reason many people go to see the horse races is to gamble. It’s fun to place a bet on which horse you think will win. Then you can step outside and watch the race live. I found that betting on a race makes things much more exciting because you have a desire to see who crosses the finish line first.
In between races we walked around the stadium to see if anything special was going on during this event. There were so many people standing everywhere that it was difficult to go anywhere between races. So sometimes we had to miss a race in order to see what else was happening in the stadium.
There was a giant kiosk close to the entrance selling products from the 2011 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races. Some of the merchandise for sale included jackets, watches, polo shirts, key chains and toys. The prices were quite reasonable (not sure if they were expensive to native Hong Kong citizens though).
The line at the kiosk was really long though. We had to wait about 45 minutes to get to the front of the line. They had signs up to tell you approximately how long you’d have to wait in line, depending on where you were in the line. So at least we knew what to expect.
We found a spot where you could take a picture with 2 ponies. They charged a small fee, took a picture with their camera and printed the picture for you, and then took a picture with your camera (if you had one). My wife loves ponies so we got a picture of us with the 2 ponies.
I’d only recommend going to the Hong Kong International Races if you’re ok with dealing with large crowds of people. There were times when we were stuck in a crowd of people and couldn’t move at all.
For example, when we went to the section in the stadium where they show off the horses before the race, all the seats were taken. There were crowds of people standing about 3-5 rows behind every balcony. People were even crowding the stairs, which made it nearly impossible to leave if you were one of the lucky ones with a seat. It was complete chaos with no security to move people away from where they shouldn’t be.
The large crowd of people watching the International Races
If you want to visit either the Sha Tin Racecourse or the Happy Valley Racecourse, I’d recommend going on a day when there isn’t a big event going on. I enjoyed myself much more the first time I went to see the horse races. There were less people and it made a huge difference in how much fun I had.
We did place some bets on horses in 2 races while we were at the 2011 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races. We bet on which horses we thought would place in the top 3, but we didn’t win anything this time. We had much better luck the last time we were at the Sha Tin Racecourse. Maybe we’ll win next time.
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