Hong Kong - Horse racing structure

Hong Kong - Horse racing structure

Hong Kong offers the fairest, simplest and most attractive racing structure out of all countries that conduct thoroughbred racing. This is because racing is primarily conducted under handicap conditions. Handicap conditions allow punters a fair chance to assess horses against each other through weight ratings which are the basis of my tipping service. Weight ratings enable punters to make comparative judgements about certain horses competing against other horses, especially where they have previously contested the same races. Weight is the key to racing. The more weight a horse has to carry, the slower it will run and conversely, less weight will make the job of a horse easier.

The handicap conditions existing in Hong Kong are further enhanced by the Class structure. The simplicity of the structure is also the reason for its outstanding success. Not only does it bring transparency to racing programs, it is fair to owners, trainers and punters. Owners can place their horses at appropriate class levels, trainers can assess their horse’s class calibre and punters can track the standard of any given horse simply by the class it contests. In Hong Kong there are five classes with Class 1 races, being for horses of the highest class through to Class 5 races being for horses of the lowest class. My in-depth research has revealed that the majority of the core horse population in Hong Kong at any given time belongs in the Class 3 – Class 4 bracket. This is demonstrated in the seasonal programming of race meetings where these are the predominant class of race allocated for most meetings.

It is allowable for horses to transition in class, some horses are known to begin their careers at Class 5 level and advance through to become top class performers at the highest level. The class structure is also generously supported by the equitable distribution of prizemoney. Unlike some countries where lower class races offer barely enough prizemoney to maintain a horse let alone provide any financial incentive for owners to participate in racing, Hong Kong has a very generous and even spread of prizemoney across all classes. This allows for instance a good Class 5 horse to earn decent stakes as a winner and placegetter without forcing a trainer to push the horse into higher Class races beyond its realistic ability. Put simply, owners and trainers can acknowledge that a horse is very capable at Class 5 level and still enjoy a successful and financially rewarding partnership without having to compete unfairly at a higher class level. On the other hand, Hong Kong racing facilitates the transition to higher classes where the obvious ability exists for a horse to advance and the system also allows for horses to return to lower class races if there are better opportunities at its true level of ability.

The prizemoney structure is geared to reward the best horses at Class 1 level but also caters generously for horses at all levels and this provides for highly competitive racing right across the class spectrum where interest and enthusiasm are maintained by this superior combination of handicap, class and prizemoney structure. Hong Kong leads the world in efficient and equitable management of a horse racing structure that is the most attractive product on the international market.


(Featured image has been reproduced with the kind permission of the Hong Kong Jockey Club.)

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