Equus Ferus Caballus
Horses are belonged to: Animalia Chordata Mammalia Perissodactyla Equidae Equus E. ferus E. f. caballus
Governor Sir Henry May has bequeathed some particulars of the racing programmes and of the horses, ponies and men engaged, of the Race Fund and its Committee’s management scarcely any record has come down.
These were the lines written by him:
“I have thus found it very difficult to determine in many instances of what breed the ponies and horses were that ran, or who their owners and riders were. I have endeavoured to ascertain something of the pedigrees and form on the English
Turf of the English horses that ran in Hongkong, but without much success, and I must thus place these notes before the public in what I fear is a somewhat bald and uninteresting form.”
F. H. May,
The quadrupeds at the beginning of Hong Kong’s racing formed a mixed mob, ranging from big English thoroughbreds down to Australian Walers, Arabs and small ponies from several sources.
Racing each in his own class, horse and pony provided some excellent sport.
We can only fit all the pieces together for a clearer picture due to the scarcity and inaccessibility of materials, references, or documentations.
The more pieces we put together, the more of the whole picture we get to see.
Famous jockey Roy Davis recounted:
“Whereas in my earlier days a Mongol pony was just that, it soon became apparent to breeders that the faster the pony, the better the price.”
For that earlier periods, ponies from different sources stole the lime lights, though sharing the stage with horses..
Interspersed in the programme were the races for Manila ponies, ‘this small fry’, as the Canton Press correspondent loftily described them.
Admittedly starting them was difficult to start.
The real hero of the early Hongkong races, however, was the Manila pony TETOY.
At the Autumn Meeting, Manila ponies raced for the first time in Shanghai.
The Manila Stakes being solely for them, and the Union Cup, run in heats, being for the two breeds of pony racing together.
Racing was flourishing in some of the northern cities of China.
China pony had established itself in public favour in those ports opened to horse racing.
At that time, racing in Hong Kong was languishing, from causes unstated; and the Colony too swiftly turned to the China pony.
The WongNeiChong Stakes was won by Mr. Mackenzie’s pony POSTILION (Mr. Stuart, r .e .). This pony as far as gathered was of Japanese breed.
1865-02-16 Annual Race Meeting, “the Subscription Cup, value 100 guineas”, for all China and Manila ponies, was offered.
It was a long race, twice round and a distance (about two miles).
This appears to have been the first use of the term “subscription” in the Hong Kong programmes.
1872-02-22_3 Stirrup Cup Griffin Subscription Sweepstake was announced on 《Hong Kong Daily Press》.
It shown the first mention of Griffin in connection with the Annual Race Meeting.
The word crossbreed became more and more frequently used, and larger animals were being produced.
Because of their longer legs etc., they were becoming quite prominent in the racing even down as far as Shanghai.
This mixed breed was increasing fairly rapidly, and it was easier for the affluent sportsmen to outbid the ordinary pony owner.
After the Bolshevik Revolution, from which many Russians and others fled to the Far East on horseback.
Cross-breeding had now; become a business — mainly Russian.
It enjoyed the approval and support of some of the wealthier expatrite owners as in due course transpired, every Chinese owner.
The ‘“Z Class” ponies, bred from the horses left by the Eight-Nation Alliance, became increasingly difficult to identify and no effective barrier could be maintained against them.
Yearly their ponies racing in Hong Kong improved, and year by year performances were sensationally better.
Steward Mr J. J. Paterson commented:
“You cannot judge of a China pony, or China pony cross, on looks.
If breeders use thoroughbred or Arab stallions for their China pony mares you are bound to get cases where a sire will be completely dominant, and the result will look 100 per cent thoroughbred or Arab.”
The truth is that Australian ponies had for some years been getting in by a side entrance at Happy Valley — on occasion in Shanghai as well.
Provided they did not exceed 14 hands, the maximum for a Mongolian crossbreed; provided their papers were in order, meaning that a respectable dealer had vouched they were from Mongolia; provided . . .Well, they had somehow been getting in.
From that year they took over at Happy Valley.
DIANA, a crossbreed, was another of which invincible, 51 races, never unplaced.
Cross-breeding between Arab stallions and Mongol mares is that it did not necessarily produce larger and faster horses.
Often it produced horses which were larger but no faster, or else horses which were faster but no larger.
Soon, there came the era of the Australian Ponies and Walers.
With only two or three exceptions in the course of a century, all ponies in the China races were geldings.
It being impossible to breed horses in China, it was pointless to send anything other than geldings.
Besides, a gelding grows taller than average and commanded a higher price.
The entire basis of racing, from its beginnings, has been to test and demonstrate improvement of the breed.
Horses could be owned by Subscription, ballot, lottery, lucky draw, private purchase, agency, or auction.
So we have thoroughbreds, Sydney and Cape horses, Walers, Japanese ponies, China ponies, Z class horses,Cross-breds, Hybrids.
Horses from Australia and South Africa, “stud book horses” of unspecified origin, galloways from Australia, Arabs (ponies, though racing also as horses), ponies from Japan and Manila, China ponies from Manchuria and Mongolia — and (during World War II) even wooden ponies!
Though with different types of runners, competitions between Dents and Jardines, Dunbar and Mollers, Expatriate owners and Chinese owners, all have been the legends in history of Hong Kong and China Races.
The Galloway is one of the world’s longest established breeds of beef cattle, named after the southern region of Scotland.
Acknowledgment to Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.