OUR MEMORIES
Racing in Canton


 

BACKGROUND

 

1842-08-29 Treaty of Nanking got the Canton’s refusal to respect the terms.
1843 onwards, however, Canton technically had been a Treaty Port but it did not really become one until twenty years later.
1856-1860 Second Chinese War led to diplomatic missions eventually resumed in Peking.
By that time, Canton was under foreign military control, which was not withdrawn until it seemed certain that Canton, once open, would remain so.
The foreign settlement was on Shameen, an artificial islet secured against the river by stone walls, and created by silt scooped up from the river .
Shameen means Sand Surface. It lay alongside what were in those times the outskirts of the city, from which it was separated by a canal — really a broad ditch.

 

 

The East in Races

 

1849, a relic of the Hong Kong racing programme gives a little more information.
A few results are handed down, such as The Canton Cup, for all horses.

 

1865, horse racing started while the city was under Anglo-French military government.
An account describes the arrangements:
1865 January, a racecourse is formed annually upon the site of paddy-fields leased for the purpose after the harvest, and pony races are held.
The unpretending ‘family-party-like’ Races at Canton are considered among the most pleasant meetings in China.
The most probable venue of these meetings was somewhere out in the fields towards White Cloud Mountain, about three miles from the city.
After the resumption of Chinese civil government, all went well for a time.

 

1870 December, however, an attempt to combine a race-meeting with an excursion by boat to a beauty spot some twenty miles up-river.
The event led to an ugly incident, in which the Europeans were pelted with stones, and had to escape under guard to their boats.
After this they cast their eyes across the river from Shameen to the garden island of Ho-nam, lying immediately opposite on the other side.
Ho-nam, occupied by the very wealthy, was a Chinese version of a garden suburb.
Though it did not bode well for wide open spaces, it did mean more personal safety.

 

1874 December, the first recorded meeting was held there.
Once again rice-fields were used after harvest. There was a small area of fields surrounding a hill. This provided a 950-yard circuit with the hill in the middle.
At a given moment in any race the ponies and riders disappeared, and there was much excitement to see which were the first to reappear on the other side.
The French were prominent in these races, as is attested by the many winning ponies with French names.

 

With Hong Kong only 90 miles away by river it may be assumed the Canton races died a natural death gradually.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

With the unification of China under Kuomintang Government and local economic achievement, municipal government confiscated the land on the northern and eastern part of Shipai.
The project was in use of building horse-court, Shipai Campus of Sun Yat-Sen University, weather station, etc., which covers around 5 km.

 

1929, Marshal Li chai-sum head of government in Canton, and Sir Cecil Clementi, Governor of Hongkong, exchanged official visits.
Such political and cultural effect in Canton was remarkable.
Where foreigners were concerned, everything seemed to improve.
It was not long before there was talk of holding races.
The Provincial Commissioner, General Chan ming-shun and the head of the Navy, Admiral Chan Chak, as well as at least three members of the Provincial Council, were all keen sportsmen and expert riders.
Patronage was conferred immediately. A convenient venue was found at Shek Pai, along the Canton-Kowloon Railway, and for once it was not on rice-fields.

 

1931-04-04 Saturday, the first meeting was held with a spectacular success unlike any previous Canton race-meeting there had ever been.
An estimated 10,000 people attended, the scenes along the road from Tungshan to Shek Pai being without precedent in Canton.
Two miles of cars in a constant stream held the road for a solid hour, from 10.30 to 11.30 in the morning, with a never-ending procession of pedestrians on both sides of the road.
By 11 a.m. it was impossible to hire a car from any garage either in Tungshan or Canton. All had gone to the races.

 

1933, the British Consul-General at Canton (Mr Phillips) forwarded to HKJC a request from the Mayor of that city for support of a special race Meeting in aid of charity.
There being no officially recognized racing club in Canton and no racecourse in formality.
HKJC Stewards were a little hesitant; but finally the Club gave the project its blessing on an unofficial basis.
1933-03-26, the Fanling Hunt provided most of the ponies for a Meeting on point-to-point lines, at Shek Pai.

 

 

The South in Games

 

With the unification of China under Kuomintang Government, Guangzhou developed economy, municipal government built racecourse on the northern and eastern borders of Shipai ( on the playground of China Normal University today ).
Since People’s Republic of China was founded, Guangzhou Shipai district has gradually become the education area.
1949 October, People’s Liberation Army set up Military University in the Shipai racecourse ( site of former Presidential Palace ).
1950-01-01, Military University was renamed to Southern University.
1992-02-23, ShenZhen Racing Club built a 800 metres race track with a small stand for 600-700 attendants for horse racing, rewarded with odds of around 3-1. It was closed shortly.
1992-04-26, horse racing was organised by base jumping in Guangzhou Huang Cun, also closed shortly.
1993-01-08, Guangzhou new ShiPai racecourse was again opened with ¥10 admission for each day or evening races weekly on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
Guangzhou racecourse was located at No. 668 Huangpu Avenue West, Tianhe District, north-eastern part of Zhujiang New Town, covered an area of 38 hectares.
Since the opening of the racecourse, its size after the Sha Tin Racecourse in Hong Kong, ranked second in Asia. Basically, race meeting was run twice a week.
1993-01-28 Guangzhou Jockey Club organized the ” Guangzhou charity Lunar New Year Cup “.

 

Guangzhou racecourse under the leadership of the Guangzhou Municipal People’s Government claimed to hold non-profitmaking public sports and entertainment,
It was the first racecourse with betting element in the New China.
1999-12-12, however, ran the last race on the racecourse.
1999-12-14, horse racing was prohibited in Guangzhou, Guangzhou Jockey Club held 757 races in those seven years.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

2000 onwards, Guangzhou racecourse became a ” Racecourse Motor City.”
Canton Horse Racing has been quiet down thereafter.

 

 

EXTERNAL LINK

 

Canton – Wikipedia

 

 

 


 

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