Sha Tin is one of two racetracks situated in Hong Kong, with the Hong Kong Jockey Club managing both venues since 1884. It is the biggest horse racing track in the country, and it hosts multiple Grade 1 events throughout the year.
It is located in the New Territories and is handily positioned on the Kowloon Canton Railway. The track has its own station on this line.
Racing in Hong Kong tends to begin in September, and regular meets are held each week until late June/early July.
There are two grandstands at the track, allowing racegoers ample opportunity to obtain a panoramic view of the entire racetrack. The capacity of the venue has risen in recent years and now allows 85,000 spectators to enjoy a day at the races.
A long stretch of the Shing Mun River borders the back straight, creating a magnificent backdrop to the track.
Unlike Happy Valley, Sha Tin boasts two different racetrack surfaces. An all-weather dirt track is located in the center, and this measures 1,560km in diameter. The straight has been measured at 380m. On the outside of the dirt oval, there is a turf track which measures 1,900 meters in circumference and has a slightly longer home straight, which is 430m.
In addition to this, there are two chutes. These are used for races held over 1000m and 1,800m.
There are a total of twenty stables located at the track, and these are currently able to hold almost 1,300 horses at any given time. There is also an equine hospital and swimming pool on the site. Other notable aspects of this unique track include the world’s first retractable roof over the parade ring as well as the world’s longest Diamond Vision screen, which is roughly the size of 4,500 television sets.
The majority of the racing takes place during the afternoon at Sha Tin with contests held over a mix of distances.
The Hong Kong Cup is the most lucrative race to be held at the track with $20,000,000 of prize money available. Other prestigious contests include the Hong Kong Mile, the Hong Kong Derby and the Queen Elizabeth Cup.
Sha Tin History
Sha Tin recently celebrated 40 years of top-class action and has been holding regular race-days since 1978. Compared to the history of Happy Valley, Sha Tin is a relatively new addition to Hong Kong’s list of impressive sporting venues. The ribbon was cut on October 7th by governor Murray McLehose.
The track was praised for allowing visitors space to breathe, providing the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of the city.
It was built on reclaimed land and was erected under the administration of Sir David Akers-Jones. He was chief secretary of Hong Kong between 1985 and 1987, and he was also briefly acting governor of the country. It was built on 930,000 square meters of Tide Cove and was a major part of the planned Sha Tin New Town complex.
The whole project cost around HK$700 million and 140-foot deep foundations had to be dug in order for the track to be built.
Many famous names have ridden at the track over the years, while a number of the sport’s biggest names have also competed at Sha Tin. These include Co-Tack, Scared Kingdom, River Verdon, Silent Witness, Able Friend, and Pakistan Star. Silver Lining won the inaugural Sha Tin trophy (the first major silverware to be awarded at the track).
In 2003, Elegant Fashion triumphed in the Hong Kong Derby and became one of the first fillies to win the valuable contest.
Jockeys such as Lestor Piggot, Willie Carson and Frankie Detorri have all arrived at the track and thrilled the crowds at Sha Tin.
The status of the races has gradually increased over the years, with more and more international interest in the track’s major race-days. Many Grade IIIs became Grade Is in the late 1990s.
In 1991, River Verdon became the first Hong Kong-based horse to compete abroad when it lined up in the Arlington Million.
Australia’s Silent Witness helped raise the profile of Sha Tin in the early 2000s when winning 17 straight races at the track during a two-year period. As a result, he was named the world’s fastest sprinter.
Sha Tin Known Track Bias
Sha Tin is famed for its wide, sweeping turns, and it allows a fairer race to take place. Whereas Happy Valley has a number of tight bends, which can often dictate the outcome of the race, Sha Tin’s results are often purely based on the quality of the competitors.
At the beginning of the racing season (late September), handicappers have noted that the fresh dirt which has been laid during the break tends to benefit frontrunners. Horses who set the pace have the tendency to get away from the closers due to the quick-conditions underfoot. This can often last for a couple of weeks before the dirt becomes trodden and well-worn.
In sharp contrast, races staged towards the end of the season (late May/June) on the turf track tend to favor closers. This is because the well-worn surface and the loss of rye grass will restrict frontrunners from making too much ground during the early stages of the race.
Races held over 1000m can often benefit closers. Generally, fast-finishing horses post better results at the track to the sweeping turns of the C course. Being handed the inside post in races held on the straight course over this distance will leave horses at a disadvantage.
Winning Post Positions
There are a number of races held over multiple distances at Sha Tin racecourse with the shortest trip typically 1000 meters (around five furlongs). Over this trip, the inside draw is hugely beneficial. Since the start of the 2016/17 season, 23% of winners have been drawn against the rail. Stalls 10 and 14 were also relatively profitable, producing 15% and 18% of winners respectively on the turf course.
There is a far greater spread in races held over 1,200m. Just 8% of winners came from the inside draw although stall 2 was the most profitable, producing 12% of winners. Stall 9 was arguably the worst draw to receive with just 3% of winners on the turf course over this distance being positioned here.
Races over 1,400 meters (around 7 furlongs) tend to produce a decent mix of winners, with the middle draws just edging ahead. 16% of winners came from stall six, with positions three and four, with each producing 10%. Once again, stall 9 provided a relatively poor return for bettors with just 3% of horses drawn in this position entering the winner’s enclosure.
The 1600m races provided a relatively balanced set of results with stalls 2,3,5,8 and 9 each producing over 12%. Just 7% of winners were drawn against the rail, proving that the inside trip was not always preferable in races held over this distance on the turf course. Of the 39 runners that were drawn in stall 10, none of them entered the winner’s enclosure.
Being drawn in the middle also proved beneficial for races held over 1,800m. 17% of winners came from stall 5, while horses drawn in positions 3 and 4 also saw positive results. 10% of winners were drawn on the outside in stall 14.
Over the longest trip at Sha Tin (2000m), the inside stalls were once again the most successful. An impressive 25% of winners came from the rail position. However, this doesn’t mean that the outside stalls are without a chance. 14% of winners came from stall 10 with the same number being produced from the outside post.
Top Trainers at Sha Tin
There are a number of trainers who regularly send their horses to Sha Tin. The track also attracts handlers from overseas although the most prolific operators tend to stay local.
There are many trainers who can boast an impressive record at the Hong Kong venue
Stats (2018-2019 Season):
A.S Cruz (7% Strike Rate)
C H Yip (8% Strike Rate)
A.T Millard (9% Strike Rate)
Frankie Lor (15% Strike Rate)
John Moore (15% Strike Rate)
J Size (19% Strike Rate)
Top Jockeys at Sha Tin
Jockeys in Hong Kong tend to divide their time between Happy Valley and Sha Tin, and many riders tend to ride regular winners at the Sha Tin track.
Stats (2018-19 Season):
U Rispoli (6% Strike Rate)
Chad Schofield (7% Strike Rate)
Vincent Ho (7% Strike Rate)
Karis Teetan (11% Strike Rate)
Joao Moreira (21% Strike Rate)
Zac Purton (25% Strike Rate)
Sha Tin Race Season and Key Races
Racing takes place at both Hong Kong venues from late September onwards, and it tends to conclude in late June/Early July. There are a number of top quality races held over the course of the year.
Group 1 Races:
Hong Kong Cup, Hong Kong Mile, Hong Kong Derby, Queen Elizabeth Cup, Hong Kong Vase, Hong Kong Sprint, Champions Mile, Stewards Cup, Hong Kong Gold Cup, Hong Kong Classic Mile, Hong Kong Classic Cup, Queen’s Silver Jubilee Cup, Chairman’s Sprint Prize, Centenary Sprint Cup
Group 2 Races:
Premier Bowl, Sprint Cup, Chairman’s Trophy, Wealth Management Jockey Club Cup, Wealth Management Jockey Club Mile.
Group 3 Races:
National Day Cup, Sa Sa Ladies Purse, Celebration Cup, Chinese Cup Club Challenge, Bauhinia Sprint Trophy, Centenary Vase, Sha Tin Vase, Queen Mother Memorial Cup, Lion Rock Trophy, Premier Cup, Premier Plate.
Sha Tin Racetrack Address
Sha Tin Racecourse, New Territories, Hong Kong