distances – classic terms at Happy Valley turf

classic descriptions of distances on Happy Valley turf


Horse racing is an equestrian performance sport, involving two or more jockeys riding on individual horses over a set distance for competition.
Precisely, the basic premise is to identify which horse is the fastest in orders over a particular distance.
It is one of the most ancient of all sports and its fundamental elements are sustained.




Time and displacement are the two most important variables.
Distances are the set lengths of a race on a racecourse or racetrack.
Horse racing distances may be cited in various classic descriptions according to different localities, or in miles, or furlongs, yards or meters.
Some of the identifications are related to the landmark[s] of the related venue and its background.





Distances used in Hongkong racing have been various in documentations due to different venues, descriptions, and measuring systems.
Programmes, race-books, result-books and newspaper reports are primary sources of information about distances.
Some distances were run for a single time, while some have been run till nowadays.
Some distances were run for a single races, while some have been run till nearly in every race meeting.
They all left their marking in history no matter the geographical condition changed or not.





Distances in the Happy Valley Racecourse on turf:


1. According to Governor Henry May 《Notes on Pony and Horse Racing in Hong Kong 1845-1887》


Happy Valley distances classic descriptions: Y-M-D_Race Event
From the Black Rock and in 1849-01-16_5 Scurry Stakes
Once round 1853-02-01_1 Wong-nei-chong Stakes
Once round and a distance 1849-01-15_3 & 5 Valley Stakes, Ladies’ Purse
From the Garden Turn once round and in 1849-01-15_2 Canton Cup
From the Black Rock once round and in 1849-01-16_3 Victoria Plate
From the Two Mile Post Once round and in 1851-02-04_5 Trial Plate
From the distance twice round and in 1849-01-15_4 Plenipotentiary’s Cup
From the Black Rock twice round and in 1863-02-24_4 Barristers’ Cup



2. According to a map published in a racebook programme of 1922-02-20:


1/4 MILE near the Hospital Bend
1/2 MILE near the Black Rock up-hill
5 Furlong near the 975 meter
3/4 MILE near the CCC entrance or near the 1235m
7 Furlong near the Winning Post
1 MILE near the 1650 meter
1-1/4 MILE near the Village Bend
1-3/4 MILE near the Stable Bend
2 MILE near the Garden






Some distances used before the period of professionalization were full of English racing cultural and Hongkong characteristic.
Once Round, also be described as Once Round the course (about 7 Furlongs 40 Yards) 1934-02-28_3 Wednesday, 4th Day.
‘From the Garden Turn once round and in’ or ‘From the Two Mile Post Once round and in’ (about One Mile 171 Yards), 1800 meters (1934-02-26_7) were slight different distances but in nearby area.
1948-02-03_6 Thu, Third Day, The Pony Hurdle Race for all Ponies., Ground to be named by the Stewards one hour before the time of starting.
1849-11-17_5 Wed Third Day, The Hongkong Steeple Chase, for all Ponies, Ground to be named by the Stewards at 12 o’clock of the 16th.
Gradually, many distances in classic terms were no longer being described or being run.
But some Classic descriptions in Happy Valley of the 1850s were still being written on the official documentations of the 1950s.





“Distance” – the length of a race: 5 furlongs is the minimum and the 4 1/2 miles of the Grand National the longest.
In English, the margin by which a horse wins or is beaten by the horse in front; this ranges from a short head to ‘by a distance‘ (more than 30 lengths);
A ‘length’ is measured from the horse‘s nose to the start of its tail.”
Then the content about distances are linked to another section of racing history, the Time Records.
Before and after professionalization, differences of distances are quite drastic, especially when metric system has replaced the English system.
Distances in Sha Tin Racecourse have been used with International Group races standard, thus racing records have been set in more diversification.






960 meters = 1/2 mile 170 yards, 1207 meters = 6 Furlong, 1609 meters = 1 mile, 1766 meters = 1 mile 171 yards, 2012 meters = 1-1/4mile, 2816 meters = 1-3/4 miles.






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Acknowledgment to Mr Peter Yuen, and Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.





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