By Hans Ebert
Sitting there last night, one couldn’t help thinking that with all the technology available, why there couldn’t be a virtual tour of Adrenaline, the venue at Happy Valley Racecourse, which, since its re-opening a few short years ago, has answered the question of what to do during those twentysomething minutes between races.
“Mate, how good is this!” Two first timers to Hong Kong from Sydney, and now first timers to racing on a Happy Wednesday night at this most unique of racecourses, were taking it all in- the balcony overlooking the track, the buffet corner, the band performing in between the races, the service, the ease in betting, the people.
The night before they had visited Escape, the cattle market in Wanchai, which is on the bucket list of quite a few from the racing world down under. Today, they’re at Adrenaline drinking Moët et Chandon. It’s nothing pretentious, it’s just the way it is.
The races are, of course, important, and they have to do the right patriotic thing and follow every ride by fellow Aussie Zac Purton. But with this night being the first of three Brazilian themed nights, the omen bet was to follow Joao Moreira. The Magic Man from Brazil rode a double whereas the usually lethal Zac Attack drew a blank. But at Adrenaline, there’s more to the night than winning on the races. Winning is nice- a bonus- but to the regulars who show up for a Happy Wednesday night, it’s simply about going out and having a good time with there always being the chance of being surprised at whom you might meet and being entertained by everything going on around you.
As the night progressed and the table grew larger to accommodate those coming and going and staying on for the night ahead, apart from the two visitors from Australia, there was a Chinese pole dancer, a French musician who ended up onstage performing three songs, a stunning Russian girl whose night was complete when she sang Hello with the resident band, her American boyfriend who never took his shades off, and a few others who live in Hong Kong and know to expect the unexpected at Adrenaline.
The Beer Garden downstairs is an incredible melting pot of different personalities who enjoy a more relaxed lifestyle whereas Adrenaline is, well, a rush- everything on fast forward, but, at the same time, relaxed.
To those who think horse racing is one dimensional and only for racing purists, they really need to experience an Adrenaline Rush. This is where the CEO of the HKJC makes it a point to visit before the last race not only to unwind, but to watch and absorb the heartbeat of the venue: the people.
People standing outside at the balcony or watching the races indoors on the banks of television sets, and once that’s over, returning to their tables, chatting with friends, listening to the ‘live’ band- a band hand picked to include the best musicians in town and led by singer Jennifer Palor.
In recent weeks, more and more musicians have been showing up hoping to just sit in and be part of the experience. With the music continuing after the last race has been run, there have been those nights with its regulars and constantly changing cast of characters when one wished that Adrenaline was a reality series. Maybe it will be.