Experience Live Horse Racing in Hong Kong
One of Hong Kong's favourite past times
· 4 min read
For over a century, horse racing has been a beloved pastime of many in Hong Kong. If you are looking for an experience in Hong Kong aside from eating and shopping, why not consider heading to one of the two iconic racecourses for a local experience?
A Brief Overview of Horse Racing in Hong Kong
The roots of horse racing in Hong Kong can be traced back to the 1840s, during the British colonial era. The first official race meeting took place in 1846, near the Happy Valley area, on a course set out by the Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. Horse racing quickly became a popular pastime among the British expat community, who were eager to bring a piece of home to their new colony.
At first, races were held infrequently and were mainly attended by the wealthy and privileged members of society. However, as the years went by, horse racing grew in popularity, with more and more people attending the races and placing bets on their favorite horses. By the turn of the century, horse racing had become a fully-fledged entertainment industry in Hong Kong.
Today, it's estimated that over 1.5 million people attend race meetings annually in Hong Kong, generating billions of dollars for the local economy. Horse racing has become a cultural phenomenon in Hong Kong, with fans from all walks of life coming together to watch the races and cheer on their favorite horses.
The Two Iconic Racecourses
Horse racing is a popular pastime in Hong Kong, and the city boasts two iconic racecourses that are a must-visit for any fan of the sport. Happy Valley Racecourse and Sha Tin Racecourse are both unique in their own way, and offer visitors a different experience.
Happy Valley Racecourse
Located near Causeway Bay, Happy Valley Racecourse is a sight to behold. The course is surrounded by towering skyscrapers, and the atmosphere on race nights is electric. Thousands of people flock to the course every Wednesday night during the season to watch the horses thunder down the track.
The nearest MTR station to Happy Valley is the Causeway Bay Station. Exit from Exit A, and walk for about 20 minutes to the racecourse. Alternatively, you could take the tram to Happy Valley Tram Terminus or Leighton Road stop.
Sha Tin Racecourse
If you're looking for a more family-friendly experience, Sha Tin Racecourse is the perfect destination. Located in the suburbs of Hong Kong, Sha Tin offers a more laid-back atmosphere than Happy Valley. Races here usually take place on Sunday afternoons.
To get to Sha Tin Racecourse, you can take the train to Racecourse Station (service available only on race days) or to Fo Tan MTR Station (Exit C). Alternatively, you can take a mini-bus that serves the Jordan, Kwun Tong, Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan, and Yuen Long districts. Check out our guide for more information on how to take the mini-bus in Hong Kong.
The Racing Season
Horse racing in Hong Kong is a popular sport that runs from September to mid-July, and racing is prohibited from the period 17 July to 31 August. During the race season, races are typically held twice every week, on Wednesdays at Happy Valley and Sundays at Sha Tin. Race schedules could change due to major holidays or other events.
Watching a Live Horse Racing
If you are planning to watch a race, first check the race schedules to confirm that there are races going on during your planned visit. Then, you can go ahead and make a reservation online for tickets to the race courses. Or you could simply go to the venue and use your Octopus card to pay for your admission fee (HKD10) to get into the public area, or get a Tourist Badge (HKD 130) to visit the Members Enclosure for a better view.
There are multiple races that happen on race day, so you don't have to stay for all the races and are free to leave any time. And if you are planning to place a bet, you can do so any time before the start of the race - so you can spend some time observing the first few races before placing a bet.
⚠️ Note that by law, no person under 18 is allowed to bet or enter premises where bets are accepted.
Betting on Horse Racing
Horse racing in Hong Kong is more than just the watching. Along with watching the horses race, bulk of the excitement comes with the betting on these races.
⚠️⚠️⚠️ Remember that betting carries significant risks, including financial loss and potential addictive behavior. Always bet within your means, understand the risks, and seek help if needed. Bet responsibly.
Types of Bets
When it comes to betting on horse racing in Hong Kong, there are a variety of options to choose from. For beginners or those who just want to experience the thrill of horse race betting, you can consider the Win Bet, where you place a bet on a horse to finish first in the race, or the Place Bet, where you place a bet on a horse to finish in the first, second, or third place in the race.
For more experienced bettors, there are more complex strategies and bets to consider. For example, the Tierce Bet requires you to pick the horses that will finish first, second, and third, in the exact order. This type of bet offers a higher payout, but also requires a greater level of skill and knowledge.
If you would like to learn more about the different types of betting options that are available, here is a comprehensive guide that the Hong Kong Jockey Club has put together.
Placing a Bet
To decide on which horse to bet on, well, you could possibly analyse past statistics to make an informed decision. But as a visitor who just wants to experience this casually, perhaps you could choose a horse either based on the horse's number or its name!
Once you have decided on the race, bet type, and horse you want to bet on, simply fill out the ticket and hand it over to the counters. You can check the betting odds for each race on the website, or on the screens at the betting hall.
Claiming your Winnings
And if you win, congratulations! Just bring your winning ticket to the counters to claim your winnings.
Aside from watching and betting on the horse races, there are also events and parties that are held at the racecourses. Every Wednesday on race days, Happy Valley will have a Happy Wednesday Party, where events such as music festival or other themed events will be held. You can expect a night out with great music at the party while you enjoy the horse racing!