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Horse racing remains most popular sports in HK

One of the thrills for visitors to Hong Kong is one of its most popular sports--horse racing. Why does the sport hold such a special place in the hearts of local residents? And how has horse racing retained its characteristics over the many years?

For over a century, horse racing has thrilled Hong Kong people, providing first-class entertainment to a highly enthusiastic public.

Here at the Sha Tin race course, jockeys from different countries are making the final preparations.

With a seating capacity of up to 85,000, Sha Tin is always packed during the race season.

Mao Xuzhi, Sha Tin racecourse, HK, said, "Gambling is illegal here in Hong Kong, except for lotteries and horse racing. Their horse comes in first."

This old punter, Mr. Huo, has been betting on horses for over 3 decades. Like all his fellow punters here, he enjoys studying the traits and performance of the horses.

Mr. Huo says he loves to watch the jockeys in action.

Another horse racing fan, Mr. Lee, says the sport has become a symbol of Hong Kong.

That explains in part why horse-racing has been a big industry for the past 150 years.

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO, the HK Jockey club, said, "Horse racing in Hong Kong is a life style. People of HK are very competitive. They like things fast. They like to be risky. Deng Xiaoping said horse-racing and dancing continue in HK. This is definitely the way what has continued here."

Behind these gambling-mad crowds and the world-class horses and jockeys is the controller of all Hong Kong horse racing, the Jockey Club. It's also the city's biggest tax payer and charity donor. It gives about 1 billion Hong Kong dollars each year to charitable causes.

Thanks to the central government's commitment and support after Hong Kong's return, the Jockey Club is still a winner after 10 years. And it's convinced that Hong Kong's special system will provide a solid guarantee for the future of the racing industry.


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