OUR MEMORIES
Harbin Racecourses


 

 

To Dry Fishing Nets; To Play Racing Games

 

 

INTRODUCTION

 

From historical documentations, the Asians took enthusiastically enough to the Westerners’ form of flat racing.
Race-goers, no matter their ethnic origins welcomed their race clubs in most of the coast and river ports, from Harbin south to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong had horse races before most of those cities, while dates and motives of the several beginnings are not easily been discovered .

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

Harbin and the area nearby were always facilitated as the center of Russian activity in horse breeding.
It was the principal city of North Manchuria, and around Hailar by that time.
Hailar, in Inner Mongolia, some 700 miles north-west of Harbin,which are not all that far from the Siberian border.
There was the advantage that both Hailar and Harbin were on the railway connecting with inland China.

 

Crossbreeding between imported stallions and Mongol mares commenced.
Ordinary European stallions being unable to stand the climate, and there being a lack of accommodation for these animals.
More or less all such breeding fell into the hands of Russians.
Then, the Russians living around or near the city of Harbin handled most of the breeding.
They soon discovered that the Arab produced the trimmer and faster mixture.
Harbin, with its settled Russian and ‘White’ Russian community, developed its importance in the breeding of horses and their transport down into China.
Harbin, the Icy City, became the obvious place to organize racing sports, normality, despite the cold.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

1905
Russian Jewish Kuleshov introduced “horse race” to Majiagou in Harbin.
He selected a broad, flat grassland to build the racetrack.at Majiagou Southbank (Provincial Library back Zone).
He imported from Russia, a group of rare species of Orlovsky horse with a hereditary fast trot and noted for its outstanding speed and stamina.

 

1906
After a year of intense preparations, “the North Manchurian Racing Club” officially opened in Harbin.
Harbin early meetings were only conducted on every Saturday and Sunday, in spring, summer and autumn annually.
The racegoers were all “expatriates”, with a very rich exotic colors, symbolizing a foreign nobility status.

 

1912
Horvat ,the Chief of the Chinese Eastern Railway could not resist the temptation of money and personally served as president of the Racing Club.
He believes that naming as “the North Manchurian Racing Club” was not grand enough so he changed it to “Manchurian Racing Club”.

 

1922
When the Japanese penetrating North-eastern China, they found racetrack operation was a very lucrative business.
They tried their best to join the Manchuria Racing Association, in order to obtain a controlling stake in the racing investment.
The old Harbin racecourse fell into the Japanese hands.

 

1923
The Chinese government recovered the sovereignty of the Chinese Eastern Railway and its subsidiary land.
They established a Provincial Executive Office in a Special Administration Region.

 

1928
The SAR resumed control over the racecourse and set up the International Horse Racing Club,
though using the ground for riders and archers training in the peacetime.
Once upon a prime time, Harbin Racecourse was operated with more than 60 race horses from various origins for flat and trotting races.
1928-11-09 a postcard was found to show the racegoers in the 3rd year of Shōwa period.

 

1931
HKJC received an inquiry from Harbin whether ponies that had raced there were eligible to race in Hong Kong as grifiins.
The reply was that a griffin which had once come under Starter’s orders could not again race as a griffin,
and a pony which had run on an unregistered course was not eligible to race in Hong Kong.
The agent at Harbin said in reply that he had it on reliable information that quite a few ponies which had raced in Harbin had already been sold at high prices to Hong Kong.
One of the best of them was a pony called HULAN, a winner of more than twenty races in Harbin, and sold for Yen 3,500.
Besides Harbin, he said, there were also clubs at Mukden and Dairen where races were regularly held.
He added, however, that at Harbin a great part of the racing programme consisted of trotting races, with sulky and driver.
Would participation in a trotting race disqualify a pony for racing in Hong Kong?
He was informed that no pony which had taken part in any form of racing at a meeting of an unrecognized club was eligible for Hong Kong.
1931-09-18, Japan seized the North-east China following the Mukden Incident and installed a pro-Japanese government one year later with Puyi.

 

1932
1932-03-01 “Manchukuo” puppet regime established in Northeast China and Inner Mongolia.
Japanese troops occupied Harbin, Majiagou Racecourse was expropriated without compensation.
The track, was turned into a military airfield.
But such a money-making machine was certainly not being discarded by the Japanese.

 

1933
In Autumn, a new Harbin Race Club was announced, under the auspices of the Military and Political Bureau of Changchun.
General Ma Yu-feng was to be President of the organization, with Major Kondo as Vice-President.
Both were appointed by the Manchoukuo Government. Forty-five well-known and influential citizens of Harbin
15 Japanese, 15 Manchoukuo citizens, 15 Europeans — were to be invited to become members of the organization and be responsible for its activities.
A new racecourse was being laid down between old and new Harbin, and would be ready in a month.
There would be a country club as well.
Harbin National Racecourse was relocated to the area of provincial stadium near the present New Peace Road.South.
A Japanese assistant technician named Sato became the boss.
Owners of horses would probably receive subsidies from the Government, while the value of prizes would be increased by 250 per cent.
Racing was scheduled to start in April to the end of October precisely each year.
1933-04-13 a postcard was found to show the enthusiasm of racegoers in the 7th year of Shōwa period .
The new venue covering 4.5 square kilometers, with three buildings plus a luxurious grandstand.
The premises had a General Affairs Division, Accounting Section, Riders’ lounges and VIP lounges, etc.
The grandstand was nearly 8 meters high with 15 pillars supported by long awning,
Both sides out of the entrances were counters for betting and lottery tickets.
Billboards close to the top of the window, displaying horses’s name, racing number, name and other information of riders.
5 yuan per betting ticket, punters could purchase according to their affordability while quantity were unrestricted.
7 to10 races were held in every meeting with an interval of about 15 minutes.
Railings were one meter high, white wooden fence surrounded in three circles.
One side of the grandstand was fenced also, and there were a two-storey tower nearby.
Its roof was installed with two loud speakers for announcement and entertainment.
A round clock was fixed on the wall with a blackboard above using for the displays of racing results.

 

1935
However, Harbin Race Club has a ring of disaster as the Ezras and the Sassoons contemplating it in the Shanghai morning newspapers.
It apparently happened, however; under ‘advice’ from Mukden, Britons — the few who were there — enrolled.
From the British Government’s point of view, racing was a case of anything to keep the political temperature down.
The Military and Political Bureau of Changchun, however, surely thought about it.
There had always been military bands at races in China, when you could get one.
There had been masses of sailors too, lining the course, mainly for fun.
Nevertheless, Harbin became instance of political races.

 

1937-07-07 the Marco Polo Bridge Incident marked the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).
Also known as the Lugouqiao (Lugou Bridge) Incident, it became the starting point of World War II in Asia.
Harbin racing continued to remain normal under the Japanese and Manchukuo power.

 

1942-08-29 Harbin Racecourse still had racegoers depicted on a Japanese postcard, in the 16th year of Shōwa period.

 

1945
1945-08-06 and 1945-08-09, a uranium gun-type atomic bomb (Little Boy) was dropped on Hiroshima, followed by a plutonium implosion-type bomb (Fat Man) on Nagasaki accordingly by USA.
1945-08-11 the Soviet attack commenced, 21:00, Puyi fled from his palace and escaped.

 

1945-08-15 noon, Emperor Hirohito in the radio address,Gyokuon-hōsō (“Jewel Voice Broadcast”),announced the surrender of Japan to the Allies.

 

1945-08-17 Puyi was deposed as Emperor Kangde. No more Japanized horse racing in the Northern East part of China after the Manchukuo ending.

 

1945-08-19
Harbin racecourse was closed after the Soviet Red Army entering Harbin and unfamiliar faces shown up.
More than 600 tankers and nearly over a thousand cannons seized from the Japanese were displayed by the Soviet Red Army,
Racecourse for a time was used as the Soviet trophy warehouse.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

1950
Due to modern construction, the track was demolished,along with the termination of gambling in China.
Harbin Racecourse was also gradually withdraw from the stage of history and people’s sight.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

Harbin, by one of the 8 etymologies, was originally a Manchu word meaning “a place for drying fishing nets”.

 

 

EXTERNAL LINK

 

Harbin – Wikipedia

 

 

 

 


 

You need to log in to vote

The site requires users to be logged in before able to vote for this post.

Alternatively, if you do not have an account yet you can create one here.