Horse racing is one of the most popular sports in Hong Kong. More than the thrill of watching the horses run, and the possibility of making a little money, it has become a life style for many locals. As we are about to usher in the Year of the Horse, our reporter Li Jiejun takes us to the race course in Hong Kong.
One of Hong Kong’s true passions. Nothing sets people abuzz with excitement quite as much as the thrill of their favourite sport: horse racing. Taking a chance, savouring joy, and cheering for a winner. It’s estimated that one third of people in Hong Kong are horse racing fans. Tommy Leung is one of them. Racing has become an inseparable part of his life for over 30 years. He hardly misses any racing day, and has his own way to pick horses.
“If the horses are sweating, that means they are nervous or not in good condition. If they are calm and placid, then they have staying power.” Leung said.
Every horseplayer has their own racing guide. Coming to the course to try their luck has become a lifestyle for many. And the number of attendees will reach its peak at the first race of the Chinese new year, which falls on the third day of the lunar calendar.
Ensuring a good start to the Chinese New Year is important to people in Hong Kong. Horse-racing is the most popular public sport in the city, and over Chinese New Year it’s even more popular, as 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Betting on a winning horse could be a sign of a prosperous new year. That’s why so many people flock to the first horse race of the year.
It’s expected that 110,000 people will flock to the race course in this new year and over a million people will watch the races on TV. Enjoying the real glamour and spectacle of the sport has become the top choice for many local people, and crowds of overseas tourists as well. The atmosphere is exhilarating, betting is feverish and there are potentially huge rewards for all.
"In the Chinese language, horse also means immediate. So a lot of people are thinking immediately doing something for their life. There will be a lot of hope. For the tourists, racing is also a fantastic event." Kim K. W. Mak, executive director of The HK Jockey Club, said.
Hong Kong is truly the Equine Capital. The horses have been running here for over 170 years. And the sport has become the chief recreational passion among all levels of society.
"I have been a horse trainer, and now horse owner. I love horses. And horse racing is many Hong Kong people’s spiritual sustenance.” Horse owner Natalis Chan said.
Horses are energetic, making unremitting efforts to improve themselves. People say horse racing represents the Hong Kong spirit, which can be defined as diligence, optimism, and those qualities mean that for the city, the odds look very good, in the year of the horse.