Sunday, February 17, 2013

Happy Valley Race Day

     If you find yourself in Hong Kong on a Wednesday night, I highly recommend that you check out the Happy Valley Racetrack for some quality horse racing.  Just before our break for Chinese New Year, we went with some friends to Happy Valley for my first horse race.

     With an entrance fee of only 10 HKD ($1.20 or 1 Euro) to get in and no pressure to place any bets, it can be a really cheap date night.  We chose to get dinner beforehand and the beers inside aren't absurdly high.  There's a decent selection ranging from San Miguel to Hoegarden to Asahi, all of which is sold in 0.5-liter or pitcher varieties.

     In terms of betting, there were about eight races with 20-minutes in between.  The minimum bet for each race is only 20 HKD and you can either choose a horse to win or to finish in the top three places.  The odds/estimated payout is clearly posted on screens around the stands and there are a bunch of counters along the stands to place your bets.  Marisa and I each put minimum bets on each race and while we had a slow start, we ended up winning more than we lost.  However, when you then take out the money we spent on drinks the whole evening probably cost us 200 HKD, which is definitely worth it for an evening of entertainment.



The track is really cool because it sits right in the heart of Hong Kong Island with all of the tall buildings around it.

The track is huge and unless you have a nice box seat then you won't be able to see anything except the finish, so the screen helps to see how things are going on the backside.

 
Before each race you have a chance to get a closer look at each horse to help make a better choice.

Marisa picked a winner

I picked a winner

Everyone's a winner at Happy Valley

 Some people are VERY serious about the horse betting.  Most taxi drivers in the city study this stuff religiously through the newspaper.  Here we have, what I would call, the equivalent of NASCAR fans for horse racing.

While the shutter speed for our camera definitely isn't made for this type of shooting, the horses really do move pretty darn fast.

     I'm certainly no expert for this sort of thing, but my suggestion is to go with names of horses that you like first - then check the odds to see whether you should go with the win or just to place.  Some of the payouts aren't great if you go with a favorite, but something is better than nothing and as long as you stick with low bets, you won't lose much overall.

     Can't wait until next Wednesday!

--Justin
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