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Horse Racing Festival Kicks Off in Hong Kong

Posted December. 10, 2007 03:07,   


Eighty-five thousand people were cheering as they watched horses race against each other at this year’s Cathay Pacific Hong Kong Cup and Hong Kong International Horse Racing event that started yesterday, one of the three most famous events of its kind in the world.

Ramonti, owned by a UAE royal family member, won the 2,000-meter race. The horse has won G1-level, or top-level international races, four times so far this year.

Total prize money of 7.3 billion won (approximately $7.9 million) is at stake in this event. To celebrate the racing competition, various ceremonies and events are organized before and after the racing competition.

A Hong Kong real estate businessman bought a two-year old castrated horse for 840 million won at an international auction held Saturday in Hong Kong. The horse was sired by an Australian champion which had won an international championship. Winning bidders at the auction spent an average of 518 million won per horse, a 2.9 percent increase from last year. The highest price for a South Korean racing horse was 96 million won. On average, people paid 50 million won for South Korean horses.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club invites world-class racing horses to boost event quality and to best provide quality services to racing fans. These strategies lead to about 12 trillion won in revenues a year, an amount twice larger than that of South Korea.

In South Korea, a person is allowed to bet up to 100,000 won, while Hong Kong sets the minimum bet at 10 HK dollars (approximately, 1,179 won) without any limits. Therefore, a person in Hong Kong could lose his house on one bet. Authorities constantly warn people of the high risks caused by high bets, just like in South Korea.

But Hong Kong differs from South Korea remarkably. A Korea Racing Authority (KRA) officer attending the Hong Kong event said, “First of all, the whole racing culture is different here.” A Hong Kong woman, he said, visits the racetrack with her children. In other words, “Horse racing has become part of normal life in Hong Kong. In Korea, it is not. Still, people focus on the gambling side in Korea,” continued the officer.

Hong Kong has a long racing history of 160 years, bumping into trials and errors down the road. When asked whether Korea could become another Hong Kong, he said the KRA and fans should work together to achieve that goal.