By Hans Ebert
For an eight race card on a pretty grey evening on Wednesday night, turnover of over HK$1.2m- an increase of over 10 percent from the same meeting last year- and attendance of over 20,000 might be impressive to those who deal in facts and figures.
For the regulars- a very international group of largely millennials- who attend a Happy Wednesday race meeting at Happy Valley Racecourse, what really matters is seeing the stars of the show up close and personal- the riders and the horses. This is their introduction to horse racing. It’s what makes them feel welcome. And so last night when jockey Zac Purton trotted his horse to the 1650 metres start before the last race, made the time to stop in front of the crowd lined up along the side of the famous Beer Garden and have a brief chat with them, this was a major highlight.
Moments like these are a key attraction to those who don’t deal in facts and figures and where that hardcore world of horse racing leaves them stone cold.
Zac Purton, Joao Moreira, Neil Callan, Nash Rawiller, Chad Schofield- every rider- becomes part of the “Happy Wednesday Movement” by being part of the crowd. They become fans of the fans which, in turn, makes those 15-20,000 become regulars and come to the races to follow their favourites.
It’s the most effective way to market horse racing to those who are trying understand how it all works and the game of skill involved. It’s not bludgeoning them over the head with facts and figures that will have them running for cover.
Add to this, the ‘live’ entertainment at the Beer Garden where everyone is soaking up the atmosphere and just happy to have a good time.
There are venues like Gallery, The Stable Bend and the very different vibe up at the club Adrenaline with music from the best group of musicians in town.
There are the specially themed nights. Watch out for a Happy Wednesday Disco Christmas and three weeks of Bollywood Nights. Last night, we were Turning Japanese.
There’s the ongoing search for Happy Wednesday Fashionistas.
There are the different venues serving different cuisine for all tastes against very different backdrops.
Put it altogether and what you have is Hong Kong’s most popular open-air club and carnival, where, for over four hours, it’s all about enjoying a free flowing buffet of happiness for everyone involved.
A Happy Wednesday at Happy Valley Racecourse really does Hong Kong proud. The Hong Kong Tourism Board should bottle it and market it to the rest of the world. Seriously.
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