When it comes to ‘must do’ attractions, there is perhaps no more quintessentially a Hong Kong experience than taking a trip to the Happy Valley Racecourse. Bulldozed into former Happy Valley swampland and surrounded on all sides by the ubiquitous skyscrapers which frame the city, Happy Valley Racecourse has thrilled casual visitors and dedicated punters alike since it staged its first race back in 1846.
Redeveloped into an international calibre racing facility in 1995, the curved façade of Happy Valley’s grandstand dominates the main straight of one of horse racing’s most iconic venues. This seven-storey behemoth accommodates upwards of 55,000 spectators, and watching your horse bolt home on race night is an exhilarating experience. It’s also one you can take a punt on in gambling-mad Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong Jockey Club one of the city’s oldest and most powerful entertainment institutions. In fact, Happy Valley’s traditional Wednesday night races rake in millions of dollars worth of revenue, to say nothing of the electrifying atmosphere buzzing around the track.
For a lesson in Hong Kong history, head to the Hong Kong Racing Museum on the second floor of the Happy Valley Stand to learn about the intriguing role horse racing has played in shaping the city. There is not only an exhibit showcasing Hong Kong’s only other track – the eye-catching Sha Tin Racecourse – but also a detailed history of the Hong Kong Jockey Club itself.