Saturday, November 08, 2008

Sha Tin Racecourse

Yesterday I spent the day at Sha Tin Racecourse in the New Territories. Its the bigger of two tracks in Hong Kong and opened in 1978. The more famous course is Happy Valley Race Track which was built in 1846 and is on Hong Kong Island.The Hong Kong office had some overseas guests and we had tickets to the members club, (very posh!) and watched the first few races from a luxury dining room with balcony, sipping drinks and chowing down on first rate grub. I haven't been to the track many times in my life, but this place was pretty state of the art in terms of technology and slickness of operation, Giant screens line the track so the punters are never denied the chance to despair as their chosen nag fades away from the pack.
The screens also afford the chance for some interesting pics when the live action and digital equines converge.
Gambling is illegal in Hong Kong except for betting on the horses (and a newly established government sponsored lottery encompassing limited sports betting). The season is restricted to the winter months and as Chinese people are crazy for a flutter, opening day at both tracks is keenly anticipated. To give you a sense of how crazy the people in HK are about horse racing, last year's opening day in September drew 60,000 and the Hong Kong Jockey Club (which runs all racing in the territory) took in US $106 million.
Yesterday the crowd was quite a bit smaller but enthusiastic none the less.
One thing I wasn't prepared for was the abuse hurled at losing jockeys by disappointed punters. The horses exit the course along a track running alongside the main Grandstand, and when the favorite makes a poor showing, the Cantonese vitriol (I didn't understand any of it obviously, but it couldn't have been pretty) reaches a crescendo.
These folks take it all VERY seriously and the time between races is almost eerily silent. Everyone hunches over their racing forms or contemplates the day's losses.
I'm not a gambler, but in the spirit of the day I had a bet or two.
Wagered : $200HK
Winnings: Nada.
The day was a lot of fun, but the week caught up to me and I hit the sack early last night. The weather this time of year is glorious. Its about 26 degrees Celsius with a light breeze and if you hadn't been here a month ago, you'd be excused for thinking the place had a wonderful climate. Though the next 4 months or so should be comfortable, I know the humidity and oppressive heat are just a season away.
Kind of Canada in reverse.
That's it for today folks.Stay happy and healthy.


Anonymous said...

Hey Ter
Glad you had a bit of fun at the races today. I took my girls horse riding this morning for a bit of fun. Not quite the same experience as you but similar equasion. take care - also have been bying a lot of go gos lately !

Anonymous said...

wake up terry. i go to bed now.

Anonymous said...

Good T photo. Hope it is all working out, out there.

A very tired TR-HW.