Sha Tin Racecourse is a horse racing facility in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is home to only two racecourses, the other being the Happy Valley Racecourse. Located in the New Territories region of Hong Kong, it is run by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, a non-profit organisation managing horse racing and betting activities associated with the sport.
Horse racing is a very popular sport in Hong Kong and receives as much attention as soccer in European countries and American football or baseball in the US. Therefore you can expect to see both the racecourses in Hong Kong full to the brim, particularly during the top racing fixtures.
Sha Tin Racecourse is the bigger of the two facilities and hosts around 474 races every year. While the Happy Valley Racecourse hosts races on weekdays, mostly Wednesdays, Sha Tin hosts race fixtures on weekends.
It is home to various Group I races and hosts many international group races which attract the top gallopers from around the world. Many of the world’s finest trainers, jockeys, and sprinters have visited the racecourse and participated in the racing events at Sha Tin.
Here is a brief insight into the Sha Tin Racecourse facilities and its history.
Sha Tin Racecourse History
Sha Tin Racecourse was opened to the public on 7th October 1978. Sir David John Ackers, the Secretary for New Territories, supervised the construction of the racecourse. To build the racecourse, the land was reclaimed from the sea.
As soon as the track was built and opened to the public, it drew a lot of attention. Its location with the scenic mountains in the backdrop, the wide track and the extravagant grandstand established it as one of the most premium horse racing facilities. Being bigger in size than the Happy Valley Racecourse, it soon superseded the racecourse and became Hong Kong’s leading racecourse.
The 1980s and 1990s marked an exponential growth in the racecourse’s popularity. Around that time, various prominent races were introduced, including the Hong Kong Vase, Honk Kong Mile and the Hong Kong Cup.
The Hong Kong Cup was held for the first time at Sha Tin Racecourse in 1988. Horses from Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia, took part in the first year. However, in the next year, horses from New Zealand and Australia also took part in the race. Since then, the Hong Kong Cup has regularly received horses from these regions.
Over the years, Sha Tin has undergone modifications and renovation work to maintain its quality and cater to the growing racing demands. These include the construction of various facilities and new grandstands to increase the seating capacity.
Currently, Sha Tin Racecourse is home to most of the biggest races taking place in Hong Kong. The four Hong Kong International Races are held at the racecourse in December every year. The race day is regarded as the biggest and richest event of the year.
Horses from the UK, Ireland, France, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, Singapore, South Africa and UAE regularly come to Hong Kong to participate in these events.
Sha Tin Racecourse Facilities
Sha Tin Racecourse comprises two tracks; a turf track and a dirt track. The main turf track has a circumference of 1899m and a straight of 430m. The smaller dirt track inside the turf track is an all-weather track with a circumference of 1560m and a slightly uphill straight of 380m. There is a separate chute of 1000m, which is used for sprint races on the turf down the home straight.
Sha Tin Racecourse was originally built with a grandstand that had a capacity of 35,000. However, it currently comprises two grandstands and has a capacity of around 85,000 individuals. The facility also features 20 stables which can accommodate up to 1,260 horses. In addition, the racecourse also entails an equine hospital, an equine swimming pool, a racing laboratory and Riverside Gallop, among many amenities available at the venue.
The Jockey Club’s Penfold Park is also present within the track. The park is spread out on an area of 20 acres. The park comprises green areas and pools which are used by water birds. It is a nice place to visit. People can walk or stroll around the park to enjoy the peaceful ambience and look at the artwork and horse statues within the park. The park is open throughout except for Mondays and race days.
Major Races At Sha Tin Racecourse
Sha Tin hosts all Group I races held in Hong Kong. It is home to 14 Group I events, which include the Hong Kong Cup, Hong Kong Mile, Hong Kong Derby, Hong Kong Gold Cup, Hong Kong Sprint, Queen Elizabeth II Cup and Champions Mile, among others.
December International Race Day at Sha Tin
The feature races held on International Race Day at Sha Tin in December include Hong Kong Sprint, Hong Kong Mile, Hong Kong Cup and Hong Kong Vase.