Establishment of the Organization
From 1845 to 1884, while a controlling body, with officials, was set up annually, there was no permanently constituted racing organisation.
Each year, racing men subscribed to the Race Fund, which was probably promoted by members of the Hong Kong Club, including officers of the armed Services and a strong group of Germans.
Subscribers imported their own mounts.
But they also elected a committee of Stewards, who arranged and conducted the annual Race Meeting.
According to Governor Henry May 《Notes on Pony and Horse Racing in Hong Kong 1845-1887》, the Race Fund and its Committee’s management scarcely any record has come down.
The only surviving relic is the official report of the subscribers’ last meeting, held in the first generation of City Hall on Queen’s Road.
The minutes are captioned, “Formation of a Jockey Club for Hong Kong”, and begin:
“A meeting of the subscribers to the races of 1884 was held at the City Hall on 4th inst. (month not given, but presumably October or November) for the purpose of passing the Accounts of the Race Season of 1884 and of considering the advisability of placing racing in Hong Kong on a more stable footing by the formation of a Jockey Club.”
1884-11-04, according to 《Hong Kong Daily Press》, was the date of the HKJC founders’ meeting.
There were 34 gentlemen present.
Hon. P. Ryrie, Hon. T. Jackson, Hon. F. D. Sassoon, W. H. Forbes, J. Bell-Irving, W. H. F. Darby, M. Grote, G. E. Noble, J. Thurburn (Hon. Treasurer), Major H. J. H. Tripp (Clerk of the Course), E. L. Woodin, R. Fraser-Smith, J. M. Guedes, J. Grant, J. J. Francis (senior Barrister), D. Ruttonjee, H. N. Mody (afterwards Sir Hormusjee), Paul Jordan, D. E. Sassoon, N. D. Ezekiel, R. A. Gubbay, Col. Hobson, L. Mendel, D. McCulloch, C P. Chater (afterwards Sir Paul), D. H. W. Sampson, W. Danby, R. C. Willcox, W. Legge, W. de St. Croix, W. K. Hughes, Major Cochrane and F. H. Slaghek.
The Hon. Phineas Ryrie was voted to the chair.
Mr J. Thurburn, the Hon. Treasurer, read the financial statement, which showed a balance in hand of $10,889.
The accounts (described by the Chairman as very satisfactory) having been adopted, the meeting proceeded to its special business.
The necessary resolutions were passed, establishing “The Hong Kong Jockey Club”, taking over the assets of the Race Fund, and providing:
“That the subscribers to the Race Fund of 1884 here present be the original members of the Hong Kong Jockey Club; that all members of the Hong Kong Club and Club Germania, and all Commissioned Officers of the Army, Navy and Volunteers who shall before the 31st December next declare in writing their desire to join the Club shall be admitted as original members without ballot or entrance fee; and that all subscribers to the Race Fund of 1884 not present at this meeting and therefore not qualified under the foregoing provision who shall declare in writing before the 31st December their desire to join the Club shall also be admitted as original members on being duly proposed by one member and seconded by another.”
The entrance fee was fixed at $10 and the annual subscription at $10.
Subsequent HKJC meetings were also held at the first generation of City Hall.
The Club started off with great eclat.
Too soon it was compelled to pause, the road to happiness was strewn with setbacks.
An early misfortune was a familiar affliction — very heavy rain.
1867, the 1st City Hall was built by public contributions.
1869, it was completed and lasted to 1933.
1869-11-02 it was formally inaugurated by H.R.H. Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh.
1947 onwards, its original location was totally replaced by the Hongkong and Shanghai Bank Building and the Bank of China Building.
Acknowledgment to Ms Sharon Oddie Brown and the Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.