Hong Kong Racing Q&A: Getting Ready For 2023-’24 Season

With the 2023-’24 Hong Kong Jockey Club racing season set to begin Sunday, Sept. 10, at Sha Tin Racecourse, seasoned international industry professional Dick Powell took time to answer questions from Paulick Report publisher Ray Paulick about what veteran horseplayers and Hong Kong Racing newcomers alike can look forward to during the upcoming meet.

There will be 10 races at Sha Tin on Sunday’s opening day beginning at 12:25 p.m. local time (12:25 a.m. Sunday in the U.S. Eastern time zone; 9:25 p.m. Saturday in the Pacific time zone).  Happy Valley will offer eight races under the lights on Wednesday, Sept. 13, beginning at 7:10 p.m. local time (7:10 a.m. ET in the U.S.).

What is the best way for someone who is new to betting on racing in Hong Kong to get familiar with the differences in horse classifications, wagering and terminologies?

The first place I would go is www.hkjc.com/english which is the starting point for all informational pursuits. From there, underneath the “Horse Racing” banner, click on “Betting Guide.” There is a Beginner’s Guide that explains what you need to know to get started in understanding Hong Kong Racing. Be aware that some of the bet types are not yet available in North America.

For video insights into the upcoming races, Racing to Win is shown about 24 hours before the first race of the next race day. Just click on the “Horse Racing” tab again, then “TV Programme Details” where Racing to Win will be the first option. This is a racing preview show with plenty of video replays of the horses being discussed. The hosts provide analysis and selections. Racing to Win can easily found on YouTube by searching Racing to Win Hong Kong.

Be aware that odds are in decimal format. You will not see 5-2 or 3-1. 5-2 is 2.5 just as 7-2 is 3.5. But, and this needs some adjustment on your part, a horse whose win odds are 4.8 will pay $9.6 to win for a $2 wager. It’s a simple multiplication of the bet size times the decimal odds. The confusing part is that we are used to the bet size times the odds plus the stake. In Hong Kong, 2-1 pays $4 where in North America, 2-1 pays $6.

What’s new for the horseplayer looking ahead to the 2023-’24 season?

The 2023-’24 season will see an increase in purses which are already big enough. The difference between the five classes is huge so there is an incentive to win and move up. That said, the big purses not only attract huge wagering but top jockeys and trainers from around the world.

The big addition to the rider colony is Andrea Atzeni. With some local experience previously in 2014-’15, he will be riding full time here for the first time. The 32-year-old Italian has the right blend of youth and experience to hit the ground running. Atzeni has Group 1 wins in seven different countries and has won two British classics.

Keagan De Melo joins fellow South African riders Lyle Hewitson and Luke Ferraris in the jocks room. All three will be trying to emulate their countryman Doug Whyte, who won 13 straight Hong Kong riding titles and is now a leading trainer here. De Melo, 30 years old, won his first South African riding title last season and should fit in well.

Apprentice riders are popular since they have more experience and success that you think. Angus Chung and Ellis Wong had to prove themselves overseas and will be popular among trainers since the apprentice allowance claim is very valuable as most of the races are handicaps.

Do you have preferred bet types for HKJC races?

My favorite bet each raceday at Hong Kong is the Treble. In North America, most ADW sites take the last Treble, which is comprised of picking the winners of the last three races. Considering field size is over 12 per race, the number of combinations grows exponentially. Plus, if you hit the first two legs, there is a consolation if you run second in the last leg.

Win betting is always worth doing since the average win price for last year’s 835 races was $18.10. And this is with favorites winning 33% of the time. You only need a couple of wins to have a good day. Exactas, also known as the Forecast in Hong Kong, have huge pools and around 130 winning combinations for each race.

Within www.hkjc.com is the Race Form which takes some getting used to but has a wealth of useful information. After pulling down the Horse Racing tab, click on Racing Info (Local) then Race Card. Once the races are drawn, there is a tab for each race’s form or all the races together.

 Does anyone publish jockey-trainer combination stats? What’s the best data resource for HKJC races?

The Race Form is loaded with data for that day’s races. It lists the leading jockeys and trainers and then breaks it down to Sha Tin Turf, Sha Tin AWT (all-weather track) and Happy Valley. You will see that some riders do better on certain surfaces than others and trainers are stronger on one more than the other.

Zac Purton is the dominant rider in Hong Kong but Vincent Ho is every bit as good at Happy Valley. Casper Fownes is a top ten trainer overall but a top two trainer at Happy Valley.

Past performances are interesting since the most recent race is at the bottom. In handicap races, the horse carrying the high weight is going to be number 1 on the program. If there are multiple horses carrying the same race, those horses are listed alphabetically. In the Career Box for each horse is the trainer/jockey combination record for this season.

Does pedigree matter in Hong Kong races since most runners are geldings?

Pedigree matters in the sense that certain sires do extraordinarily well in Hong Kong. Deep Field, Starspangledbanner and Per Incanto were the three leading sires last season. American-based sires of winners included American Pharoah, Artie Schiller, Bernardini, Dialed In, Flower Alley, Frosted, Jimmy Creed, Lookin at Lucky, Medaglia d’Oro, More Than Ready, Scat Daddy, Street Boss, Street Cry, The Factor, War Front, and Warrior’s Reward.

Are Sha Tin and Happy Valley different enough that there are “horses for courses” for each of the tracks? Do certain jockeys and trainers have more success at one track over the other?

Sha Tin and Happy Valley are different like night and day. Sha Tin usually runs on an afternoon on the weekend and Happy Valley runs on Wednesday nights. Sha Tin has a wide, turf course where races up to 1,800 meters can be run around one, right-handed turn with the homestretch about 440 meters. 1,000 meter sprints are run down a straightaway.

Inside the Sha Tin turf course is the all-weather track which sometimes is referred to as the dirt track. It is very fast and usually yields running times faster than the turf. It is not unusual to see 1,200 meter races run under 1:08 seconds.

Happy Valley is only seven furlongs and has an unusual shape. There is a short stretch heading into a quick right-handed turn for the run down the backstretch. After another sharp right-handed turn, the homestretch is only about 330 meters. 1,000 meter sprints are run around one turn.

Horses that do well at Happy Valley are usually more experienced than those at Sha Tin. Not many horses begin their career at Happy Valley so you get a lot of older, horse-for-the course types. The ability to accelerate is crucial since the turns are so sharp and the homestretch is short. Still, horses can win from off the pace at Happy Valley and the finishes are chaotic and exciting.

That should get you started in the right direction. Spend as much time on HKJC.com as you can. After the races, the result charts are second to none with detailed trip notes. The running of the races are closely scrutinized (it will take some getting used to after 40 days of racing at Saratoga) and the riders know that the Stewards will call all fouls. Horses are rarely disqualified but riders are constantly being suspended. Riders can keep their horses down on the rail and expect to find running room in the deep stretch since suspensions are so disruptive to their business.

Dick Powell is a seasoned horse racing professional with over 35 years of experience in all aspects of the industry. His horse racing consultant business handles business and legislative issues. He is an acknowledged expert on domestic and international simulcasting, account wagering, player rewards/incentives, gaming at racetracks and fan education.

The post Hong Kong Racing Q&A: Getting Ready For 2023-’24 Season appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

DYFD Winter - 300x90

Comments are closed.