Ok, today is the day that everyone writes about flowers, hearts and love – so let’s skip that. I’d rather talk about winners and losers, horses and riders, beers and burgers. Can you guess what my topic for today is? It is Happy Valley, the famous race course in the heart of Hong Kong.
It is the place to be if you want to meet up with friends for a beer and pretend that you know anything about horses, racing or betting. It is cheap fun (the entrance is only 10 HKD) and a good way to spend a few hours – especially with such amazing sights surrounding you. Lots of skyscrapers and buildings are around Happy Valley, lots of lights and a great atmosphere. I always enjoy it when I visit…
… and I have been a fair amount of time since I first went back around Easter 2011. Over the time I finally understood that it’s not always the best tactic to bet on the favourite horse to win. If it wins, the turnout is small but actually more often it’s not the favourite horse that makes the race. Along the same line of thought, Patrick’s approach to bet on the horse with the highest payout and the lowest odds of winning only left him with one or two wins (and yes they were bigger than several of my smaller wins added together).
I’m now much more adventurous and actually try different combinations. I pick the guide that’s always available for free, scan the horses and riders and pick those that have at least once come under the top 3 horses in a previous race. Then I check the rankings, I never go for A or A+ as that’s the obvious, but pick horses with a B or B+ as they often seem to be the surprise winners. So I nowadays go for horses that are not the obvious favourite but rather number two, three or four.
Also I don’t go for the straight ‘win’ bet anymore. I started playing Place, whereby I have to select correctly the 1st, 2nd or 3rd horse in a race, or Quinella – that means I have to select correctly the 1st or 2nd in a race. That way it’s likely to win, although the payout will be lower than for a straight win. Anyway, enough about betting or it sounds as if I’ve got a gambling problem! Here is a betting guide with more info.
There tend to be between 7-8 races every Wednesday. Between each race the winning horse and rider are celebrated and then the new horses and riders line up so everyone can inspect them before placing a bet. This takes quite some time, and it’s actually around 30 minutes between each race. During that time, people buy more drinks or get some food (there is even a McDonald’s with a special ‘winners’ menu and lots of tents that sell snacks and meals) and there is always a show.
Every Wednesday there is another theme – I’ve been to the Easter bash, the German Oktoberfest, a magician’s night, a French race night etc. Here is an overview of all the upcoming Happy Wednesday events, as you can see February is all about magic, March about wines and April about heroes.
The races will continue until early June, then there will be a break until September. Before you go to the racecourse, check the calendar here or the local newspaper to find out if a race is on and what the details are.
Anything else that you need to know? Races are held virtually every Wednesday during racing season, which is most of the year. The races start about 7 pm and run till around 11 pm. You must be 18 years of age to enter the racecourse, no children are permitted. If you don’t know how to get there, check out the travel recommendations here.