A Guide to Happy Valley Racecourse

The Happy Valley Racecourse is world-renowned in Hong Kong. Located in Happy Valley in the Wan Chai District on Hong Kong Island, it is one of the two leading racecourses in Hong Kong and is home to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and of course home to some incredible Hong Kong horse racing events.

If you are a tourist cruising through Hong Kong, do not forget to check out the action at the Happy Valley Racecourse on Happy Wednesdays. You will be treated to a full sensory experience, including delicious food and beverages and the exciting entertainment offered by the jockeys atop thoroughbreds running across the track at a rampant speed, with nothing but victory on the mind.

It is also hard to ignore the weekly theme integrated into every element across the venue, from decorations to the band, menu, and games. The entire experience is bound to provide an adrenaline rush as you have never imagined before.

Let’s look at the brief history of the Happy Valley Racecourse and its racing facilities.

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History Of Happy Valley Racecourse

The racecourse was constructed in 1845 as a horse racing facility for the British residing in the region. Conditions were not ideal for constructing a racecourse as the area was formerly a swamp. However, it was the only suitable flat ground big enough for horse racing on the entire island.

To build the racetrack, the government barred rice cultivation for settlements in the vicinity so that the swamp could be transformed into a flat ground ideal for horse racing. Within a year, the venue was ready as the first race took place in 1846. While initially it was intended for the recreation of the British only, the racing events held at the racecourse made the sport very popular among the Chinese residents as well.

An unfortunate event occurred at the racecourse on 26th February 1918 when a provisional grandstand collapsed. As a result, food stands nearby were knocked over, due to which the bamboo matting at the venue caught on fire. Around 614 people lost their lives in that tragedy.

Happy Valley racecourse facilities

As suggested earlier, Happy Valley is one of the two main racecourses on the island, the other being the Sha Tin Racetrack. Happy Valley is home to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of the oldest horse racing institutions in Hong Kong, which was formed in 1884. The club conducts around 700 horse races annually, divided between the Happy Valley Racecourse and the Sha Tin Racecourse.

The racecourse occupies an area of 92,000m as per a government-subsidised lease for private recreational facilities. It has undergone various revamping ventures to add and extend its facilities. The venue was extended in 1995. In 2004, Populous, a renowned global architectural firm, was hired to design the owner’s facilities at the racecourse.

The project entailed the renovation of the M1 stand and the upgrading of the dining facilities and restaurants in the facility. The renovated design has enabled the management to reduce operational costs by eliminating inefficiencies and increasing revenue generation.

On the Wednesday nights of every week from September to July, the racecourse comes alive as the spectators and bettors cheer for their favourite contestants from the seven-story stands in the racecourse. These stands have been designed to accommodate up to 55,000 onlookers at one time, making it one of the biggest venues in Asia. The horse races held every Wednesday are open to the club members and the general public.

The racecourse’s inner field is home to various sports and leisure amenities, including rugby, football, and hockey fields, which the Department for Cultural and Leisure Services manages.

Happy Valley Racecourse is also home to the HJC Museum, which was opened in October 1996. The museum can be found on the second story of the stands in the racecourse. The museum has four galleries highlighting the history and origin of the racecourses and thematic exhibitions dedicated to the Hong Kong Jockey Club. The museum also has a souvenir shop and a cinema.

To the novice spectator, the Happy Valley Racecourse offers more than just racing. While you may visit to catch some live horse racing action, you will be pleasantly surprised by the venue’s ambience, with live music and themed décor, accompanied by a unique dining experience. The majestic skyscrapers and the stunning skyline make the sight more mesmerising and a memorable experience.

The racecourse hosts the International Jockey Championship every year, in which top riders from all over the world participate. The event entails four select races in a single night, and the prize money for the winner is HKD 200,000 and a trophy, while the second place receives HKD 100,000.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who won the International Jockey Championship for 2020/21?

Zack Purton won the International Jockey Championship for 2020/21, while Joao Moreira finished 2nd place.

Where is Happy Valley Racecourse located?

The Happy Valley racecourse is located in Happy Valley in the Wan Chai District, on Hong Kong Island.

What are the booking requirements at Happy Valley Racecourse?

To visit the Happy Valley racecourse, you must be over 18 years of age and have a valid passport at the time of entry. The ticket price depends on the time of the year you visit the venue and ranges from $5 to $20.

How can I purchase Happy Valley racecourse tickets?

Tickets for the Happy Valley Racecourse can generally be bought on the day of the race meeting, though it is advised to purchase them in advance to avoid disappointment. The racecourse offers options ranging from basic passes that include access to the grandstand and betting hall to tourist badges that allow for trackside access and entry into exclusive members’ areas.

What facilities can I expect at the Hong Kong racecourse at Happy Valley?

Happy Valley Racecourse is equipped with extensive facilities following several revamps. It features a seven-story stand that can accommodate up to 55,000 spectators, a variety of dining options, betting halls, and a museum that highlights the history of horse racing in Hong Kong and the contributions of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

Are there any special events or themed nights at Happy Valley Racecourse?

Yes, the racecourse is known for its vibrant themed nights such as Oktoberfest and Winter Wonderland, particularly during the Happy Wednesday events. These evenings often include live music, special betting games, and other entertainment, making them a popular mid-week choice for both locals and tourists.

What should I know before visiting Happy Valley Racecourse?

Visitors should be aware that entry requires being over 18 years of age with a valid passport. It’s also recommended to prepare for the evening races by familiarizing oneself with the betting options available and possibly bringing a pen as they can be in short supply at the venue.

What types of dining options are available at Happy Valley Racecourse?

The racecourse offers a range of dining experiences from fast food for those wanting a quick bite trackside, to more sophisticated dining options such as the Moon Koon restaurant, which provides views of the racetrack and serves meals and drinks during race times.


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