One of the must experiences in Hong Kong to get a feel for local culture is to participate in a horse racing event. It took me almost 3 years in Hong Kong to finally attend one, but even though this experience is not likely to repeat any time soon, I can atleast now happily cross that off my list and wipe away my feelings of guilt and shame for having missed it so far. Honestly, just between you and me, I could never really understand the rush people get by gambling – I could be missing some fundamental human gene or something – but I have to admit there’s something fun about watching other people’s pleasure at doing it.
There are two horse racing tracks in Hong Kong. One in Happy Valley on Hong Kong Island which mostly runs on Wednesday nights, and the one I attended in Sha Tin, which mostly runs on Sundays.
The best source of information available in English that I know of on how to get there and the schedules is in "Travel Hong Kong Attractions". To get to the racecourse in Sha Tin (check that page for detailed schedule as well) :
Situated in Sha Tin, New Territories. Due to the overwhelming demand for Hong Kong horse racing, the building of the second racetrack stadium in Sha Tin was realized in 1980. It was conceived on a much more imposing scale than Happy Valley and the grandstand can accommodate around 75,000 spectators. This racecourse is mainly used for weekend racing activities.
- From Hong Kong International Airport, board the KMB Bus no. A41 to the 3rd bus stop at Sha Tin Centre Bus Terminus (40 min / HK$22.3). Get into the nearby Sha Tin MTR Station, wait and take the East Rail Line train going to Lo Wu station that will pass through to the Racecourse Station (5 minutes @ HK$6).
- If you are coming from Shenzhen, China passing through Lo Wu, you should take the MTR train at Lo Wu station to Racecourse station (26 min / HK$21.3).
Important: MTR Trains to the Sha Tin Racecourse are ONLY available during race days.
So, what does a horse race feel like? Watch this next short video capture :
And in photos…
The rush, ofcourse, is when you actually have a horse or two picked out.
There’s this informative form that details the running horses for each race with some very basic stats, like how many of the similar races they’ve won so far, etc. If you’ll look closely at the next form, you can see the horses that my very charming accompanying friend and I thought were good contestants.
Our system was a bit naïve, betting all over the place, but to our defense – we did end up picking winners and we did actually won money, or atleast – didn’t lose money I thought was just lost meaningless gambles.
The race track itself, as you probably noticed, is nicely situated against a scenic mountain background…
Now, with all due respect for the horses, the most interesting things to watch during the races were the HK people…
But since this is about horses, might as well include a few shots of those. If you head to the back of the racecourse, you can catch them marching the horses before every race and snap a few close photos.
It’s an interesting experience. I’m sure that if you’re drunk enough and well into gambling, it could get quite amusing and fun, but even if not – just spending time with the locals and watching how they spend their time is always a treat for me.