Happy Valley Racecourse: It was first built in 1845 to provide horse racing for the British people in Hong Kong. Before it was built, the area was a swampland, but also the only flat ground suitable for horse racing on Hong Kong Island. To make way for the racecourse, Hong Kong Government prohibited rice growing by villages in the surrounding area. The first race ran in December 1846. Over the years, horse racing became more and more popular among the Chinese residents. (from wikipedia)
one of the highlights of hong kong was the happy valley horse races (how come lonely planet doesn’t mention them?!). tons of dressed up expats in the ground near the track, cheerfully socializing with beers in hand, discussing horses and jockey performances, while the stadium balconies were brimming with chinese people, carefully watching the screens and checking their notebooks and newspapers for guidance. despite the contrast in attitude, everyone seemed really into it – her majesty would be really proud!
for us newbies to the sport, it was great! the atmosphere was really enthusiastic, exploding into cheers during the race itself, and then relaxing again during the betting time, with lots of drinking and smaller events going on. we didn’t place any bets (the system is a bit tricky) but still had fun just immersing ourselves in this environment. in don’t miss it if you get the chance to go there!