To support the government’s efforts in boosting the city’s night economy, visitors can now enjoy free entry to the Happy Valley Racecourse, with upgraded Happy Wednesday activities until December. Whether you’re a first-timer or a regular fan, read on to learn about the sport, and find out what to expect during your visit and things to do besides betting.
Other than free entry, the racecourse offers a series of themed nights, including Oktoberfest, carnivals, and Winter Wonderland festive events. For more information, please visit the Happy Wednesday website.
About The Hong Kong Jockey Club
The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) has been more than just racetracks in Happy Valley and Sha Tin since its establishment in 1884. As a non-profit organisation, it has provided horse racing, sports, and betting entertainment in Hong Kong. The government-granted monopoly offers parimutuel betting on horse racing, the Mark Six lottery, and fixed odds betting on overseas football events. Membership in the exclusive club is highly selective, historically reserved for old money families but now including newly rich members.
Today, besides being the largest taxpayer and community benefactor in Hong Kong, it is also a major employer. It now focuses on building an age-friendly city, promoting youth social innovation, and supporting sports projects that foster positive values and aspirations.
Preparing For Your Visit
Although serious money can change hands at these events, anyone can participate. With bets starting as low as HK$10, it’s the perfect place for beginners to try their luck. The staffs at the counters are friendly and very helpful in assisting you to place your bet.
There is a great atmosphere in the public enclosure akin to the beer garden. Catch the live bands and grab a bite to eat from one of the food stands, then wash down with an ice-cold beer.
Race season generally runs from September through to early July. Wednesday night tends to be race night and if you only have one opportunity to go, Happy Valley is the more popular of the two to visit. There’s also vibrant night festivals on Wednesdays at Happy Wednesday – where you can enjoy the thrill of live horse racing as well as live bands, beer garden, appetising F&B choices with an international crowd. So, whether you’re a racing novice or an old-hand, a regular or a one-time visitor, there are plenty of ways for you to enjoy a trip to the races.
Find more exciting things to do in Hong Kong this month here.
The dress code is casual, but we recommend that you wear plenty of ‘Eau de Moustique’. The swamp may have been drained, but there are still plenty of hungry mosquitoes buzzing trackside, so repellant is a must.
Please note it’s standing only in the public area, and there’s nothing quite like the thrill of being right up close to the action, with the horses thundering past just beyond the railings.
Our Tip: Bet on the horse with the name you like the most and hope that beginner’s luck is on your side!
Where To Go In The Course
To access the Public Enclosure at the racecourse, simply use your Octopus card to pay the HK$10 admission fee at the entrance (Free entry from September 20 to December 2023). This grants you access to the Grandstand, betting hall, and various restaurants within the public area. An additional admission fee is required for entering the special betting zone within the Public Enclosure.
To upgrade your racecourse experience and enjoy a closer view of the action, you can purchase a Tourist Badge. This allows you to visit the Members Betting Hall, Paper Badge Betting Hall, and trackside areas. Tickets are available at HK$130 (Regular Race Meetings) or HK$190 (Major Race Meetings). To purchase, visit the designated counters located at the Members Main Entrance of the racecourses on race days.
Noted that no shorts or flip-flops are allowed in the member areas, and you will also need to show your passport to obtain the Tourist Badge.
Dinner or Drinks at the Races
Overlooking the expansive Happy Valley Racecourse, Stable Bend Terrace offers a spectacular Western BBQ buffet with free flow of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages at HK$690/person. This might be a nice option for a couple or small group to have a civilised evening out.
Alternatively, the trendy Adrenaline bar offers a themed food selection, a signature drink and innovative video screens that show the latest racing information. With great balcony views and cover from the rain, you can’t go wrong. The package on regular race nights is HK$100/person, inclusive of 1 drink & 1 copy of iRACE.
A friendly reminder that smart-casual dress-code applies at both venues, therefore no shorts, sleeveless tops or flip-flops are permitted.
If the Stable Bend Terrace or Adrenaline Bar are a little beyond your budget, but you’d still like a taste of the VIP experience, note that entrance to the bar is free after 10pm. So, you can have the best of both worlds. Start off in the public stands and then head up to Adrenaline for a drink to round off your evening in style.
Follow The Pro
If you’re an old hand on the racing scene you might prefer to head up to the Second Floor Terrace. Away from the more casual party atmosphere trackside, the terrace is fitted out with comfortable seating and excellent views of the course.
The seats include writing desks (so you can better concentrate on taking notes on your prospects and the serious business of placing your bets). You won’t look out of place with binoculars.
Study the form, study the jockeys, study the trainers, look at which trap is running well, is the horse lively tonight, listen to the pundits, seek advice from your neighbours, work colleagues etc. Check out the last four races for the horses, check weight and class… and then make a considered decision. Simple.
Missed the Races?
If you’re visiting out of season or on a non-race day, but still want to learn about the all things ‘horse’, visit the on-site Hong Kong Racing Museum. It’s open from 12-7pm daily and charts the 150-year history of horse racing in Hong Kong and also showcases some Jockey Club’s charitable endeavours.
Happy Valley Racecourse is only a 20-minute stroll from Causeway Bay MTR station. Alternatively, hop in a cab or even better, ride the tram, which also known locally as the Ding Ding.
Please note that entrance is strictly over 18 years old only. Be sure to check the dress code if you will be anywhere other than the public enclosure, and don’t forget your passport if you are planning to get the Tourist Badge.
On your marks, get set, go.
Header image credit: Rommel Wu via Flickr