Horse racing Utopia?

by David on January 18, 2013

‘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.

Good punting
David Duffield

{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Brent Smith January 18, 2013 at 1:29 pm

Hi Dave,
I am a “weekend only” ratings member as I found it too difficult to follow the live page and back the midweek horses, often missing last minute changes or additions.
I would love to subscribe to a Hong Kong ratings service as the time difference from NZ would allow me to participate fully, and i am very keen to get amongst those huge betting polls where you guys have found the real value. Cheers,


David January 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Stay tuned for more information Brent.


David January 18, 2013 at 2:02 pm

I find hk is a great place to punt. That said their are a number of surprise results. I find that with the tote and fixed odds available that on average their is a lot of value in the prices available.

You are right they really cater to punters with every angle, stat available.


Bevan Piper January 18, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Dear Champion

Hong Kong racing has no appeal from a punting perspective as, generally, the horses have very inconsistent form lines.



David January 18, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I can’t agree with you there Bevan. Once you get to understand the nuances of Hong Kong form I think you’d find there are genuine reasons behind most performances (good or bad).


Matt January 18, 2013 at 3:35 pm

Well why arnt we getting on them Dave? Maybe CP can throw a little something together so we can all get on them together. Dont worry about the uk the place is way to wet and unpredictable how about a focus on HK Tips instead.


David January 18, 2013 at 3:38 pm

Getting on is the problem Matt – Aussie bookies wont let you get a decent bet on. But we’ve got a solution we’re working on right now.


Matt January 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm

Good work Dave, i swear you boys at CP do a hell of a lot more work than your given credit for.


Duncan January 18, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I tend to agree with Bevan: from what I could see there were horses with dreadful win strike rates (as one example) and you wonder how they could possibly be competitive. That said, as we all know, there are teams of ratings guys making big dollars in that market, and they are winning because they’ve worked out the nuances of the form.
I also agree you can’t get a bet of any size on here…so whatever CP comes up with would surely have to involve a way of getting the money on in HK itself.


Noel January 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm


I believe you may have meant to say that a typical HK race would have a $AUD1.5 million turnover, not $AUD15 million turnover per race as suggested in your article. Conversion of HK dollars to AUD exchange rate is currently 1 HK dollar for every 0.12 AUD dollars. Even so, betting pools on an ordinary HK race are massive in comparison with any of the three separate Australian TAB betting pools we bet into on an ordinary run-of-the-mill Saturday Australian race. Last Wednesday, HKJC turnover exceeded one billion HK dollars for an 8 race meeting, which averages out at about 12.5 million HK dollars per race. $AUD conversion is about 1.5 million Australian dollars per race – an Australian racing administrator’s dream by any standard!

I agree with your comment that Australian racing administrators have a lot to learn from the HKJC. Step 1 should be the establishment of a single Australian racing authority to replace state authorities. First priority for a national governing body could be the establishment of a single national tote pool covering all Australian racing. Next should be taking steps to negotiate the co-mingling of an Australian national tote pool with the tote pool in a large Asian racing centre such as HK. Now an outcome like that would be every Australian and also HK punter’s dream come true!




David January 19, 2013 at 7:09 am

Hi Noel
I did mean 15 million AUD per race as I was including all bet types, not just win betting.
‘Last Wednesday, HKJC turnover exceeded one billion HK dollars for an 8 race meeting, which averages out at about 12.5 million HK dollars per race.’
I think you mean 12.5m Aussie dollars.
National tote pool makes so much sense but always seems to get put in the too hard basket.


sam January 19, 2013 at 4:53 am

This is what punters want! Please forward this article on to ALL the officials in racing ATC, RNSW, VRC……………………………….may get them thinking at least.


Noel January 19, 2013 at 7:48 am

G’day again David,

No, I did in point of fact mean 12.5 million Hong Kong dollars per race (arrived at by dividing 1 billion HK dollars total turnover for the 8 race card conducted last Wednesday night by 8 races = 12.5 million HK dollars per race).

It’s all a case of semantics anyway – the bottom line is that HK has turnover volume per race that should make Australian racing administrators turn green with envy.

Good luck today!



Sam January 22, 2013 at 12:40 pm

1 000 000 000 / 8 = 125 000 000
125 000 000 x 0.12 = 15 000 000


Noel January 19, 2013 at 10:12 am


On reflection, you are absolutely right in respect to your statement that the average amount turned over per race in Hong Kong expressed in Australian dollars is $AUD 15 million. I stand corrected with humble apology.

My calculation to convert HK dollars to Australian dollars to work out the average number of Australian dollars turnover per race should have been 1 billion HK dollars / 8 = 125 million $HK average turnover per race x 0.12 exchange rate to convert HK dollars to AUD = 15 million Australian dollars per race. Wow!

Those kinds of figures are mind blowing. It’s rather surprising that Betfair hasn’t negotiated a deal with the Hong Kong government to buy into the action.




David January 19, 2013 at 11:18 am

The HKJC are very protective of their monopoly.


Brett January 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

HK racing is magnificent, I bet there twice a week with great success, massive overlays available (mostly out of the superstitious betting derived from the Asian culture).

One question David, at a recent Global Racing Conference it was mentioned Australian Totes would be joining the HK Tote, have you heard any information when this may become reality?


David January 19, 2013 at 11:59 am

The last thing I heard was a Winfried Englebercht interview on TVN a few months back. He mentioned that the biggest issue right now was the HK government as they want their full take-out (tax) on the co mingled pools rather than accepting a reduced rate to allow for the fact that their will also be takeout/tax on the overseas tote such as ours.


Brett January 19, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Ok thanks, sounds like along way from reality. It would be nice a large percentage of the HK win dividends convert $2-$3 higher than our tote dividends.


Mick January 22, 2013 at 11:35 am

Hi David,

In your response to Matt, you mentioned the problem was getting a ‘decent’ bet on with the Aussie Bookies. I’m only a modest punter, so I was wondering what your (or others) define as a ‘decent’ bet – $100, $500, $1000, or more?


David January 22, 2013 at 11:41 am

As soon as you have shown the corporates that you know what you’re doing (and that isn’t necessarily winning, it may just be beating SP) then you won’t even get $100 on.


Ned January 22, 2013 at 12:59 pm

Australian racecourses everywhere are poorly utilised infrastructures. Hong Kong has introduced Happy Wednesdays. Love to hear your thoughts on how this concept could be applied to both city and rural racetracks here in Australia and what are the chances of it being successful.?


Jon February 18, 2013 at 9:01 am

It is a great place to bet and it is the most profitable of all the racing available. But just try getting a decent bet on. Soon as you win with any of the corporates your betting account on all racing anywhere is screwed. They will restrict you, so you basically can’t have a bet, or they will close your account. The stewards actually do their job overthere and the jockeys are trying their utmost to win or get the most out of their mount. The stewards in Australia and England are a joke and so is the government for letting the corporates control betting in this country the way they do. It would be good if Champion Picks had a Hong Kong service, but if you guys where even able to pick the winners and be in profit, us punters aren’t able to get on, as their is no Betfair for Hong Kong, and the corporates will restrict or close your account once you go into profit.


David February 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

True Jon, although we did have some good news recently with co-mingling getting approved for later this year.


greg September 2, 2013 at 12:36 pm

i know that it has been said above that they wont ban big punters etc.
prima facie that has to be good – but don’t they have a 28% “take” or “rake” from their pools.
if that’s correct – and i think that it is – that is draconian – no wonder they are scared of Betfair.


David September 2, 2013 at 12:41 pm

18% for their win and place pools and higher for the exotics. That’s a fair whack but there is still good value there at times.


greg September 2, 2013 at 3:26 pm

yes – i made a mistake its 28% in singers not HK on supertab


Peanuts September 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I bet into HK very profitably for most of last season using Betezy & Bet365 and never struck a problem. Maybe because i was testing the waters and staking was relatively small. This year I’ll be going full steam ahead so we will see how it goes.
Just a word of caution. September was not a profitable month. Many first starters and only trial form. I may give it until October until I jump in.
As you know Dave I would be very keen on a CPicks HK service.


David September 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm

True about the start of the season, it requires a different approach.

And I have an analyst working on a HK tips membership but it isnt quite ready as yet. Will keep you posted.


Grant September 6, 2013 at 12:04 pm

Follow Speedpower during September, look for horses that have ordinary form from last season but have 3 thumbs up for track work, then you’ll be on the right track. If you can forget last seasons form you will find some good priced winners in September. Don’t forget all horses have ben re rated so there will be some anomalies early in the season for horses that were going terrible last season but may have come down to a rating that allows them to win. best of luck.


David September 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm

Thanks for that Grant. Long time no hear.


greg September 2, 2013 at 3:25 pm

if you show anything bet$3.65 will severely restrict you


clark September 2, 2013 at 3:19 pm

One corporate working H.K. is Mark Read so he may be the one to try as he has a reputation of holding a decent bet, I see he bets fixed odds and also pays H.K. tote prices with a 10% rebate for losing bets, plus you have IAS & 365 Sportingbet, so there’s 4 bookies, if you need more than that than you have to much money and shouldn’t be punting.


Glenn September 2, 2013 at 3:31 pm

Having really profited from your ratings service Dave, I too would love to see CP have a similar service for HK. Just as an aside in relation to the “take” from their pools and the size of the betting, the HKJC is the largest tax payer of any entity in HK.


Rati September 2, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I have been following the W/End HK scene for the past 10yrs. The professionalism is unmatched. The jockeys are always under the pump to produce the best because the trainers and punters and stewards are not forgiving of a bad ride, hence they attract the best jokeys from the world. Sha Tin is in a unique position if the track is too wet the meeting is swapped to all weather to give all the horses an even chance. HK is a definite punters friend. Many a time I lost in Saturday race and made up in Honkes. Worth following if you know how the betting system works there and KPI of horse. I suggest you watch only if you have never bet there and make notes. Once you understand it, money in the bank.


Stevie Patrick October 22, 2013 at 8:53 pm

I am a 24yo that is trying to take my love of horse racing and the punt to a new level. Im a carpenter during the day but spend my nights always reading, watching analysing all aspects of racing. I have been directed to HK racing by a friend.

Ive decided at the start of November Ill be purely concentrating on HK racing. Ive signed up with Mark Read etc and will try and get as much out of it as I can. The two meetings week etc certainly makes HK much more ‘easier’ to follow.

The only query I have with HK racing is the results than can occur that completely go against the formlines. 80-1 shots happen far more frequent than in Aus.

My question is what are you looking for in a race in HK? Are speed ratings a pivotal factor? The drop down in class?

Can someone tell me how to approach the form for HK as it feels a lot harder to understand than in Aus.



David October 23, 2013 at 10:03 am

There’s a thousand factors Stevie so your job is to find the ones that the market undervalues. Start with some of the long form articles on the big betting syndicates, read a book like Precision from CX Wong and just read and listen to as much information as you can to fast track your progress.

Good luck


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