What, and where, is Happy Valley?
As far as horse racing is concerned, Happy Valley Racecourse is one of two popular facilities operated by the Hong Kong Jockey Club, the other being Sha Tin Racecourse. Originally built by the British military, on an area of previously uninhabitable wetland in the Wan Chai District, in the north of Hong Kong island, Happy Valley Racecourse staged its first fixtures in December 1846. The name ‘Happy Valley’ is euphemistic, probably derived from the presence of a cemetery and/or the high rate of malaria in early Hong Kong.
It would be fair to say that Happy Valley Racecourse has been superceded by the larger, more modern Sha Tin Racecourse, which was built by the Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1978. The latter hosts the four most prestigious horses races in the Hong Kong racing calendar, namely the Hong Kong Cup, Hong Kong Mile, Hong Kong Sprint and Hong Kong Vase – collectively known as ‘Hong Kong International Races’ – annually in December.
However, unlike Sha Tin Racecourse, Happy Valley Racecourse enjoys a central location, surrounded by a soaring city skyline. So-called ‘Happy Wednesday’ is particularly popular with Hong Kong residents and tourists alike. Floodlit horse racing, cheap admission, no dress code and live music combine to create a lively, exciting atmosphere and a social occasion as much as a horse racing experience.