Hong Kong’s races are carnival-like in atmosphere, as spectators from all walks of life come together to cheer for their local heroes: unimaginable in the early colonial days, when spectators were segregated by race and class. Although horse racing was once exclusive to the British elite, the sport has since transcended socioeconomic boundaries. Sure, the size of the bets may differ; but the sense of triumph is universal.
Foreign jockeys still dominate racing in Hong Kong. But there have also been homegrown heroes who have become celebrities in their own right. People like Hong Kong born-and-raised jockey Tony Cruz. Of Portuguese descent, he joined the Jockey Club’s first apprenticeship programme at the age of 14 and went on to become the city’s champion jockey six times, with 1,500 wins under his belt – of which 946 took place in Hong Kong. Since then, he’s also made his name as a trainer, winning two championship titles to date.
More than two decades after the British left Hong Kong, Deng was half-right. We’re dancing in clubs, not discos. But the racing continues, unchanged.
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