Hong Kong Jockey Club

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The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Company typeNon-profit organization
Founded4 November 1884; 139 years ago (1884-11-04)
HeadquartersHong Kong
Key people
Michael T H Lee, Chairman
Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, CEO
ProductsBetting, lottery, sports
The Hong Kong Jockey Club
Traditional Chinese香港賽馬會
Simplified Chinese香港赛马会
The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club
Traditional Chinese英皇御准香港賽馬會
Simplified Chinese英皇御准香港赛马会

The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) was founded in 1884 and is one of the oldest institutions in Hong Kong. In 1960, it was granted a royal charter and renamed The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club (英皇御准香港賽馬會). The institution reverted to its original name in 1996 due to the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. Membership of the club is by nomination and election.

It is a non-profit organisation providing horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment in Hong Kong. It holds a government-granted monopoly in providing pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, the Mark Six lottery, and fixed odds betting on overseas football events. The organisation is the largest taxpayer in Hong Kong, as well as the largest community benefactor and one of the city's major employers. In 2022/2023, The Hong Kong Jockey Club contributed a record HK$35.9 billion to the community. This comprised a record HK$28.6 billion in betting duty, profits tax and Lotteries Fund contributions, and HK$7.3 billion in approved charity donations.[1] The club also proactively identifies, funds and develops projects which anticipate and address social issues and pressing needs in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Jockey Club also provides dining, social, sport and recreation facilities to its approximately 23,000 members. Its Charities Trust is also one of the world's top ten charity donors.[2]


Founded in 1884 as an amateur body to promote horse racing, it was an exclusive club whose membership was drawn from the upper class with strict rules of membership, with women and people of unsuitable background being banned. This led to the club having no Chinese members until the 20th century.[3]

The club evolved into a professional institution from 1971. The club organised the annual races which took place around Chinese New Year and was initially financed by commissions on bets which were placed through private clubs.

Queen Elizabeth II accorded the club with a royal charter in 1960, and it became The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club (英皇御准香港賽馬會) until 1996.

In July 2005, the decision was made to stage equestrian competitions of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Hong Kong. The club's racing centre at Sha Tin was used as the foundation for the Olympic and Paralympic venues, with additional competition and training venues being incorporated into existing sports facilities at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, the Jockey Club Beas River Country Club and the adjacent golf course.

In January 2023, after Regina Ip proposed increasing taxes on the Jockey Club's football betting revenue, the Jockey Club said that the move would "destroy" its business model and jeopardize public interest.[4] In February 2023, after Financial Secretary Paul Chan increased football betting taxes, Chan said "They can have their reactions, and we will do what we have to do."[5]

Racing activities[edit]

Happy Valley Racecourse
Sha Tin Racecourse

The HKJC conducts nearly 700 horse races per year at its two race tracks at Sha Tin (沙田) and Happy Valley (快活谷). During the 2001/02 racing season, the HKJC licensed 1,144 horse owners, 24 trainers and 35 jockeys and had 1,435 horses in training.

In 2002–2003, the betting turnover was HK$71 billion. After paying dividends of 58 billion and betting duty of 9.5 billion, its betting commission revenue was HK$3.9 billion. It contributes 11.7% of Hong Kong's tax revenue. Surpluses from its operation are allocated to The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.

Following the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong, the popularity of horse racing declined substantially, possibly due to economic conditions in the region.

On 16 March 2007, the HKJC appointed William (Bill) Nader, formerly with the New York Racing Association, as its executive director of racing from April 2007.

On 9 September 2007, Sha Tin Racecourse opened after its summer break with record 1-day crowd of about 60,000. Chief Secretary Henry Tang struck the ceremonial gong. The Hong Kong Jockey Club collected US$106 million in bets (highest since 2001). Children of horse owners were admitted amid protest of local anti-gambling groups. Sunny Power, booted by Howard Cheng, got the trophy in the 1,200-metre dash.[6]

In January 2008, Eclipse and Sovereign Award winning jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson became the first North American female rider to be granted a license to compete in Hong Kong.[7]

The reform and other changes mentioned above, the HKJC revenue has steadily increased back to previous levels and above. The total racing revenue for the Racing Season 2011/2012 reached HK$86.1 billion, up 43.4% since the 2006 reform.[8]

Betting and the law[edit]

The head office in Happy Valley
An off-course betting branch of the Hong Kong Jockey Club in Man Yue Street, Hung Hom.

The HKJC has a legal monopoly over betting on horse racing and football. In 1974, it opened 6 off-course branches where the members of the public could wager on horse race meets at the club's Happy Valley racecourse. There are now in excess of 100 betting branches throughout the territory that accept bets on racing and football, as well as buy Mark Six lottery tickets.[9]

The HKJC was instrumental in persuading the Hong Kong government to pass the Gambling (Amendment) Bill 2002 to combat unauthorised cross-border gambling and the related promotional activities in Hong Kong, making it a criminal offence for any person in Hong Kong to bet with an unauthorised bookmaker, even when the bets are received outside Hong Kong. The offence applies to all visitors as well as to residents of Hong Kong.

It was also instrumental in persuading other members of the Asian Racing Federation to sign the Good Neighbour policy on 1 September 2003.

2006 Horse racing reforms[edit]

In 2006, after years of declining turnover, the Hong Kong Legislative Council passed the Betting Ordinance (Amendment) 2006. This amendment granted the Hong Kong Jockey Club more autonomy in how it ran its own operations.

Single-race bets[edit]

Pool Name – Dividend Qualification

  • Win (獨贏) – 1st in a race.
  • Place (位置) – 1st, 2nd or 3rd in a race with 7 or more declared starters or 1st, 2nd in a race with 4, 5, 6 declared starters.
  • Quinella (連贏) – 1st and 2nd in either order in the race.
  • Quinella Place (位置Q) – Any two of the first three placed horses in any finishing order in the race.
  • Trio (單T) – 1st, 2nd and 3rd in any order in the race.
  • Forecast (二重彩) – 1st and 2nd in correct order in the race.
  • Tierce (三重彩) – 1st, 2nd and 3rd in correct order in the race.
  • First Four (四連環) – 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in any order in the race. (Merged pool with Quartet)
  • Quartet (四重彩) – 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th in correct order in the race. (Merged pool with First Four)

As of September 2006, all Win, Place, Quinella, and Quinella Place bets (including All Up bets) of a value of at least 10,000 Hong Kong Dollars are eligible for a 10% rebate if the bet or betline loses.

Multiple-race bets[edit]

Pool Name – Dividend Qualification – Consolation [if any]

  • Double (孖寶) – 1st in two nominated races – 1st in 1st leg and 2nd in 2nd leg pays a consolation.
  • Treble (三寶) – 1st in three nominated races – 1st in first two legs and 2nd in third leg pays a consolation.
  • Double Trio (孖T) – 1st, 2nd and 3rd in any order in both legs.
  • Triple Trio (三T) – 1st, 2nd and 3rd in any order in three legs – 1st, 2nd and 3rd in the first two Triple Trio legs but not the final leg pays a consolation.
  • Six Up (六環彩) – 1st or 2nd in each of the legs nominated to comprise the Six Up – 1st in each leg pays a bonus.

Fixed-odds bets[edit]

Social membership[edit]

Membership in this club is very strict, limited to the moneyed social elite. In the past, this club was reserved for only "old money" families; but currently there are increasing numbers of "newly rich" members.[10] Similar to other elite clubs, HKJC membership applicants often must wait for years if not decades to be accepted. What makes it especially difficult to join is that this club does not allow memberships to be bought and sold in the secondary market.

For joining racing membership, one has to be proposed by a voting member and seconded by another voting member, with the support of three other members. For joining full membership, one has to be proposed by a voting member. Note that if a interested person is not yet a racing member, applications to be racing member and full member must be made at the same time if one is intended to be full member.

As of 30 June 2022, the joining fee for racing membership is HK$150,000 whereas that for full membership is HK$850,000. Monthly fee is HK$850 and HK$2,550 respectively. [10]

In September 2021, the club terminated several memberships, including those of Martin Lee, Jimmy Lai, and Albert Ho.[11]


The Hong Kong Jockey Club can trace its long tradition of donating to charitable causes back to at least 1915, but it was in the 1950s, as Hong Kong struggled to cope with post-war reconstruction and a massive influx of immigrants, that this role became integral to its operation. In 1955, the Club formally decided to devote its surplus each year to charity and community projects, and in 1959, a separate company, the Hong Kong Jockey Club (Charities) Ltd, was formed to administer donations. In 1993, a new entity was established, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, to reflect the evolving nature, scale and scope of donations. The Charities Trust is one of the world’s top ten charity donors.

Over many years, the Club has established its position as a major social partner in fostering a caring and inclusive community in Hong Kong. It accomplishes this through donations made to its community partners via The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust; various Trust-initiated projects; and by organising its own events that allow people to experience a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. Today, the Charities Trust contributes across various areas of social needs and focuses on five strategic areas: Positive Ageing & Elderly Care, Youth Development & Poverty Alleviation, Healthy Community, Talent & Sector Development, and Sports & Culture.

Over the past decade, The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust has donated an average of HK$5 billion a year to the community. In 2022/2023, its total approved donations were HK$7.3 billion, benefiting 247 charity and community projects.

The Charities Trust’s substantial donations to the community are made possible by The Hong Kong Jockey Club’s unique integrated business model, which comprises racing and racecourse entertainment, responsible sports wagering and lottery, a membership club, and charities and community contribution. Approximately 90% of the Club’s annual operating surplus after tax is donated to its Charities Trust, enabling it to play a significant role in the community’s development.[12]


The Happy Valley Racecourse occupies a 92,000 m^2 plot of land on Inland Lot 8847, under a government-subsidized Private Recreational Lease.[13] The lease began in 1884 and currently is set to expire on 23 June 2034.[13]

Hong Kong Free Press in September 2021 claimed that the Jockey Club has broken its earlier promise to return the land at the Happy Valley Racecourse in exchange for land in Shatin.[14]

Club chairmen[edit]

# Name Tenure
1 Phineas Ryrie, JP 1884–92
2 Sir Catchick Paul Chater, CMG, JP 1892–1926
3 Henry Percy White 1926–29
4 Charles Gordon Stewart Mackie, JP 1929–35
5 Marcus Theodore Johnson, JP 1935–39
6 Thomas Ernest Pearce, JP 1940–41
7 Percy Tester 1945–46
8 Sir Arthur Morse, KBE, JP 1946–52
9 Donovan Benson, OBE, JP 1953–67
10 Sir John Anthony Holt Saunders, CBE, DSO, MC 1967–72
11 Sir Douglas Clague, CBE, MC, QPM, CPM, TD 1972–74
12 Peter Gordon Williams, OBE, JP 1974–81
13 Lord Sandberg, CBE 1981–86
14 Sir Oswald Victor Cheung, CBE, QC, SC, JP 1986–89
15 Sir Gordon MacWhinnie, JP 1989–91
16 Sir William Purves, CBE, DSO, GBM 1992–93
17 Sir John Joseph Swaine, CBE, QC, SC, JP 1993–96
18 Wong Chung-hin, CBE, JP 1996–98
19 Alan Li Fook-sum 1998–2002
20 Ronald Joseph Arculli, GBM, GBS, CVO, OBE, JP 2002–06
21 John Chan Cho-chak, GBS, CBE, LVO, JP 2006–10
22 Thomas Brian Stevenson, GBS, JP 2010–14
23 Simon Ip Sik-on, GBS, CBE, JP 2014–18
24 Anthony Chow Wing-kin, SBS, JP 2018–20
25 Philip Chen Nan-lok, GBS, JP 2020–22
26 Michael Lee Tsz-hau, JP 2022–


The role of Chief Executive Officer was first known as the General Manager. Major-General Bernard Penfold was appointed as the club's first General Manager in 1972.[15]

  1. Major-General Robert Bernard Penfold, CB, LVO (1972–1979)
  2. General Sir Arthur John Archer KCB, OBE (1979–1986)
  3. Major-General Guy Hansard Watkins, CB, OBE (1986–1996)
  4. Lawrence Wong Chee-kong (1996–2007)
  5. Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, GBS, JP (2007–present)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Hong Kong Jockey Club Annual Report (for the Year Ended 30 June 2023)". hkjc.com. Retrieved 28 December 2023.
  2. ^ "Hong Kong Jockey Club". SCMP. Retrieved 24 November 2020.
  3. ^ Eric Cavaliero, "Hong Kong Club members succumbed to redevelopment offer Archived 27 May 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 13 February 1997
  4. ^ "Hong Kong Jockey Club 'overreacting' to potential football betting tax raise". South China Morning Post. 29 January 2023. Retrieved 30 January 2023.
  5. ^ Lee, Peter (22 February 2023). "Hong Kong Budget 2023: Jockey Club to pay HK$12 billion football betting tax over 5 years to increase gov't income - Hong Kong Free Press HKFP". hongkongfp.com. Retrieved 22 February 2023.
  6. ^ "ChannelNewsAsia.com, HK's Sha Tin race course opens to huge crowds". Archived from the original on 13 October 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2007.
  7. ^ "Racing News Wire | Just another WordPress site".
  8. ^ Hong Kong Jockey Club, "2011/12 Season End Results Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine, retrieved 15 August 2013
  9. ^ Betting Services for the 21st Century Archived 27 March 2017 at the Wayback Machine, HKJC. Retrieved 24 July 2007
  10. ^ a b Ip, Kelly (11 January 2013). "Join the club" Archived 17 February 2013 at archive.today. The Standard.
  11. ^ Chow, Carine (17 September 2021). "Jockey Club expels Lai, Lee and Ho". The Standard.
  12. ^ "About The Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust".
  13. ^ a b "Review on Policy of Private Recreational Leases" (PDF). Home Affairs Bureau. March 2018.
  14. ^ Hamlett, Tim (13 September 2021). "Short of land? Hong Kong picks on the small guy instead of challenging vested interests". Hong Kong Free Press HKFP. Retrieved 26 January 2022. We could hold the Hong Kong Jockey Club to its long-broken promise to return the Happy Valley Racecourse to other uses in return for the rolling acres devoted to horse matters in Shatin.
  15. ^ "Major General Bernard Penfold - obituary". The Telegraph. 28 June 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2020.

External links[edit]