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A Happy Valley Wonderland? Why not?

While Hong Kong is doing the best it can to be the best it can in the post pandemic malaise of wherever it is we find ourselves today, perhaps it’s time to look at the racecourse at Happy Valley and how, with some creative thinking and overhauling, this iconic venue can be much more than it is.

How? By being a…Happy Valley Wonderland…and with the Wednesday night racing continuing without any hurdles.

Not knowing a thing about the business and working relationship between the Hong Kong government and the HKJC that comprises much more than horse racing, at least to me,  there’s always been the feeling that the Happy Valley Racecourse can be this city’s field of dreams or magical enchanted forest.

Of course, this in no way is saying that the Wednesday night racing should disappear. Au contraire. 

The government needs the taxes on betting and with these profits being ploughed back into the community.

How this money helps the community is anyone’s guess as communications on this subject from both sides of the fence are rather thin on the ground.


When asked by my old amigo Winfried, the CEO of the HKJC, to revamp what was then something or another called Sassy Wednesday and with a beer garden that only came alive for the annual Oktoberfest, this became the weekly and very much populated Happy Wednesday brand. 

Happy Wednesday was a game changer and Winfried and I did a little dance and got down every Wednesday night.

For me, it was always hoped that this Happy Wednesday experience at the Beer Garden could somehow become a separate business stream of the HKJC and be made available to Hong Kong and the world, on course and online.

Like what and how?

Like being a five day “Carnival de Hong Kong” held once a month at the racecourse with pop-up kiosks offering everything from food, art and fashion to pockets of ‘live’ music including buskers and bands, duos, DJs, plus interpretive dance, yoga, Selfie Centre etc. 

What else?

How long is a online ball of string?

Of course, it’s no secret to anyone who’s been in Hong Kong for any length of time that the HKJC can often be a strange place with its own agendas and priorities. 

Some of the Oompah Loompahs hired seem to believe that they are there to see what cannot be done, be compliant, subservient be part of the fun police.

There are so many restrictions and corporate roadblocks like the strangely titled department known as Procurement that any initial inspiration to make good things happen quickly dissipate and good people leave. 

We’re almost the end of 2023 and Hong Kong is still hunting, hurting and zigzagging for something new and BIG that’s not the Greater Bay Area project, and not more museums, cultural institutions and another round of 5-8 years of “philanthropic” plans. 

By then, everyone will be 5-8 years older, plus who’s to know what’s next for the world in the next few months, let alone Hong Kong, and what long term plans that may or may not happen?

Does Hong Kong need more voucher-driven campaigns? 

Where’s the sustainability in this other than feeding an already bloated Oliver Twisted society wanting more and more?

Don’t things like these vouchers and acts of random weirdness like “night vibes” in the revamped former infamous red light district of Temple Street in Kowloon cheapen the image of Hong Kong and bring standards down to budget levels?

Another thing: Isn’t this area still under the control of thugs?

Multiple people involved in Sunday night Temple Street scuffle recorded on video | The Standard

Getting away from the history of Temple Street, maybe this is the plan: Make Kowloon the “new budget entertainment centre” for the masses and have Hong Kong side be the city’s financial hub.

Whilst contemplating one’s navel about this, why not rewind to the idea of Happy Valley Racecourse being used as a weekly bazaar/carnival of Happiness for all of Hong Kong- adults,teens, tweens, young families- and as an ongoing tourist destination for those in the West?

While at it, what about the white elephant that is the Hong Kong Racing Museum?

Never heard of the Hong Kong Racing Museum?

How many have even visited this building in Happy Valley that’s now lazily used as a drop off point for taxis?

Why not turn this expensive monument to uselessness into something more forward thinking like, maybe, a multi media centre?

One very much doubts that too many have made the pilgrimage to this museum to stare up at the skeleton of the one-time champion Hong Kong galloper River Verdon?

Mentioned above are some thought starters. 

Someone will no doubt find reasons why none of this works, and to them, here’s hoping that they one day see the wisdom of drinking from a half full glass of vision.

It’s time to the cord, delete the pretentious foo foo Instagram lifestyle some are desperate to flaunt, take a break from social media, learn to breathe, try to change the negative energy that’s so prevalent in the city these days, and as Mr Nike keeps saying, Just Do It.

It’s inspiring to work on something that you know might or will work instead of patching up what’s already wounded and limping and sending it out to win a war with more millions spent on firework displays as some sideshow of a celebratory hosanna goes up in flames and the sound of pfffft.

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