‘Utopia’ can be defined as an imagined perfect world.
So my idea of a horse racing utopia looks something like this:
- A progressive racing administration that understands punters are their clients who fund the industry
- Free detailed form easily accessed online including sectional times, speed maps, video replays, trackwork information and statistics
- A racing schedule and pool of horses, trainers and jockeys small enough for the normal punter to keep track of
- Vigilant stewards with sufficient power and initiative to enforce relatively clean racing
- A class system that a primary school kid could understand
- Double digit field sizes for every race
- Most races being run at a solid tempo
- Infrequent wet tracks
- Multi-million dollar turnover for each race so that punters can get set for decent amounts
- Winning punters aren’t banned
That may sound like a fairly fanciful wishlist, but in case you aren’t already aware the above version of a horse racing Utopia already exists in the real world.
It is called Hong Kong.
All of the above is true about Hong Kong horse racing and it’s not surprising to learn that the industry there is going ahead in leaps and bounds.
The Hong Kong Jockey has proven that the more information punters can access, the more they will bet. With this goal in mind they continually add pertinent punting information to the HKJC website and have made it a phenomenal resource. Whether you want sectional times, video replays from multiple angles, in running photos, detailed statistics, speed maps, race simulators, horses bodyweights, or literally every piece of trackwork a horse has done you can find it all easily and for free.
Instead of the non-stop racing we have in Australia, they normally race just twice a week in Hong Kong. Almost every race has 12, 13 or 14 runners and there are only two racecourses (plus an All Weather surface). Happy Valley is a tighter, turning track you might compare to Moonee Valley, while Sha Tin is roomier with a longer straight comparable to Flemington. Hong Kong’s climate means that wet tracks are uncommon.
There is a small pool of jockeys and trainers and each of them are closely observed and heavily scrutinised by stewards. No doubt you are already aware that Chris Munce got jail time for tipping, while Damien Oliver didn’t even miss a Spring Carnival for betting against his own mount.
The class system used in Hong Kong racing couldn’t be ant easier to follow. A Class 5 is their lowest level, then Class 4 is a better grade and so on until you get to the Group races.
The punting turnover is phenomenal. A typical race would have around $15m AUD turnover and much of that is on the exotics. They do the form quite differently to the way we approach it and that creates some very good value bets on occasion.
Don’t get me wrong. Australian racing has fantastic strengths, but anyone not looking seriously at Hong Kong racing is passing up one of the biggest opportunities I have ever seen.