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Homeracing

The best of Hong Kong

Profile Picture: Dick Powell

May 10th, 2019

The 2018-2019 Hong Kong racing season is winding down. This Saturday at Sha Tin, the Hong Kong Jockey Club will run its 71st day of races, meaning that there will be only 17 days of racing left. Usually, Hong Kong runs two days a week: Wednesday night at Happy Valley and Sunday afternoon at Sha Tin. That is not carved in stone since there are exceptions during their 88-day racing season. The next and only major stakes race left on the calendar is the Champions & Chater Cup (G1) on May 26 at Sha Tin. First run in 1870, it is now run at 2,400 meters (about 1 1/2 miles) and is the third leg of the Hong Kong Triple Crown. The first two legs were the Stewards Cup (G1), run at 1,600 meters (about one mile) and was won by BEAUTY GENERATION, the world’s highest-rated active horse. Next was the Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) run on February 17 at 2,000 meters (about 1 1/4 miles) and was won by EXULTANT, who just missed in the Queen Elizabeth II Cup (G1) last out but won the Hong Kong Vase (G1) in December going this distance and the Hong Kong Gold Cup (G1) in February. Last year’s Champions & Chater Cup only attracted a field of five with the enigmatic PAKISTAN STAR running down Exultant late in the stretch. Tony Cruz has won five of the last six runnings of the Champions & Chater Cup and, while he no longer trains Pakistan Star, he still trains Exultant whose rating has gone up 14 points since then. There are three international shippers whose entries have been received: one from Japan and two from Mike de Kock who are South African-bred but raced in Dubai. Thus the Champion & Chaters Cup might not be the best betting race so we’ll have to wait and see how this year’s renewal shapes up. One sure thing I can give you that you won’t be sorry is the racing at Happy Valley. They race Wednesday night in at Happy Valley in Hong Kong so it is early Wednesday morning in America since they are 12 hours ahead of us. On the East Coast, you can get up at a reasonable time and catch racing around 7:15 a.m (ET). Happy Valley runs eight races per night and they only have turf racing whereas Sha Tin has turf and all-weather racing. You can focus on these races and horses, and there are many horse-for-the-course angles. There are four commonly-run distances on the turf – 1,000 meters down the straightaway, 1,200 meters around one right-hand turn, 1,650 meters around two right-hand turns with the first turn coming up quickly and 1,800 meters around two right-hand turns with a long run to the first turn. Also sometimes 2,200 meters around three right-hand turns with a quick run to the first turn. My advice is to follow Happy Valley every Wednesday morning. The HKJC.com web site is a wealth of information and if you click on “Horse Racing,” it will bring you to a dropdown menu where you will click “Racing Info (Local).” On the next dropdown menu, click on “Race Card,” which will then display the day’s racing information. What I do is go to the shaded horizontal box and click on “Download Race Form (All Races),” which then gives you that day’s Race Form which can be saved and/or printed out. It takes a while to get familiar with what you are looking at so just have the Race Card ready during the races. For now, the betting menu is Win, Show, Quinella and Trifecta. There is a bet called the Omni Swinger where you can win if your horses finish first/second or second/first, first/third or third/first and second/third of third/second. With big fields and huge pools, the payoffs are strong and you can do pretty well even if you are a Show bettor. One point during the telecast is that in other countries, 3-1 pays $6, not $8 like in the United States. When the announcers talk about a horse being odds-on, it means the odds are less than 2-1. For example, a horse who is 1.60-1 would pay $3.20. Hong Kong racing is not something that you dive into head first. It’s a deep lake so my advice is to just focus on Happy Valley at the start and learn as much as you can. You will be able to watch the races and get more comfortable with it while having a lot of fun watching exciting, colorful horse racing. PHOTO: Exultant (c) Hong Kong Jokey Club

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