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Horse racing in Hong Kong: "Happy Valley is like no other racecourse in the world"

Horse racing: Hong Kong’s Happy Valley is like no other racecourse in the world

By Doug Robertson

Punters bet more than a billion Hong Kong dollars – or $A137.6 million – and 12,000 people flock to night racing at Happy Valley Racecourse each Wednesday.

This horse racing phenomenon in the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities is a hit with racing purists and tourists who are cashing in on the spectacle.

I visited Happy Valley’s turf track with five mates in May and discovered it has a feel like no other racecourse I’ve seen.

The first glimpse of the seven-storey mega-complex, dominating Hong Kong’s oldest racetrack, was stunning and buying a tourist badge gave us access to areas usually reserved for members.

Racing is the only legal form of gambling in Hong Kong, which is a Special Administrative Region of China, and punters invested an astonishing $143 million, including off-course, on the eight-race card. The Jockey Club controls the entire industry in a curious mix of capitalism in a Communist-controlled state. But that’s not the only thing that makes Happy Valley different.

HKJC employs 24,000 people and countless service industries benefit from the sport.

It controls on-course and off-course betting, employs on-course announcers and racing experts to host TV shows in English and Cantonese.

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