Keeper Protector Guide
Hongkong Governors had always been the Chief Patrons or Honorable Steward of HKJC and donors of trophies.
Some of them and even some of their ladies were owners.
Not only Governors, HKJC’s officials had frequently included the highest ranking of Civil Servants.
Dr E. J. Eitel who wrote《History of Hong Kong》stated that:
the annual races during the administration of Hong Kong’s first Governor, Sir Henry Pottinger (1841-1884), were:
“still held in Macao. So, it had a purpose for a general pilgrimage to Macao occupied the latter half of the month of February in 1842 and 1843.”
But that convenience stopped abruptly.
Such ending, however, came to a new beginning!
According to page 16 of《China Races》written by Austin Coates:
1844-01-26, about a fortnight before the races” the Government of Hongkong published for general information the text of the Consular Ordinance” issued by Sir Henry Pottinger.
As Plenipotentiary in China, he made concerns between the dealing of Britain, Portugal and the Chinese Empire.
“Question Portugal‘s sovereignty over Macao, however, as Sir Henry Pottinger unwisely did, and that was the end of that. Not another race-meeting was ever held on the remote and pleasant Areia Preta racecourse.”
Soon, Mr W. T. Mercer, Private Secretary to the Colony’s second Governor, who accompanied His Excellency (Sir John Davis) to the Colony.
Governor Davis concurred, though he was not entirely convinced that the fields in WongNeiChung Valley were the real cause of disease.
So lands were claimed to build a Hong Kong racecourse for the Annual Race Meeting held in Macao before.
Annual Race Meeting, the third day, a cup presented by the Canton community for Arab horses only (9 st. 10 lbs.) was won by Mr Jardine’s ST. ANDREW.
Sir George Bonham, the Governor’s TEMPTATION, ridden by Mr Foster of the 95th Regiment, was second.
There were five races (two for horses and three for ponies) on the second day including the Plenipotentiary’s Cup presented by H. E. the Governor Mr. G, Bonham, for all horses, 1850-02-05.
Governor Bonham also entered a fast-moving Arab named TEMPTATION, which was a prominent performer for several years.
A welter race (10 st. 7 lb.) for Arabs (1 miles) was won by His Excellency the Governor Sir George Bonham’s TEMPTATION, 1851-02-04.
His Excellency Sir Hercules Robinson (1859-65), a young man of 35, is said to have been rebuffed by the Stewards when, without benefit of formalities, he sought ex-officio privileges at the races.
But most of the Governors regularly donated cups.
1884-02-20, before the formation of HKJC, the last Annual Race Meeting organised by the old Racing Committee, Governor Bowen was the Honorary Steward on the panel of officials.
1884-11-04, after the formation of HKJC , Governor, Sir George F Bowen was the first Honorary Steward.
The records tell of the Robinson Challenge Cup (for subscription griffins), donated and presented by His Excellency Sir William Robinson (1891-1898).
Robinson Challenge Cup became the Blake Challenge Cup. when Sir Henry Blake was appointed.
Governor Blake, with his wife and daughter, made it to Pao Ma Chang, but evidently unfamiliar with the peculiarities of locomotion in the Peking region, got there too late.
Sir Matthew Nathan did not attach his name to the Cup, which was called thereafter ‘The Governor’s Cup‘.
A race book of that year gives us a complete list of officials.
Gracing the frontispiece as Honorary Stewards are:— The Governor (the Hon. F. H. May, C.M.G., acting).
Sir Matthew Nathan, had one pony, named CHING, which, with Mr Mackie riding, was third in the Valley Stakes.
Sir Frederick Lugard was appointed Governor on 1907-07-29 and became the Club’s Honorary Steward in time for the annual Meeting of 1908-02-12.
Governor Sir Cecil Clementi, succeeded Sir Edward Stubbs on 1925-11-01.
Both Sir Cecil and Lady Clementi were fond of horses — as the names of Sir Cecil‘s Ride through WongNeiChong Gap attest: but they did not have a racing stable.
The Hon. Mr W. T. Southorn, C.M.G. (later Sir Thomas Southorn, Governor of the Gambia), administered the Government, and was HKJC’s Patron.
Governor Peel’s NELL GWYN (14.3) and HIGH FINANCE also did fast times.
The last Governor’s Cup ever presented at the Fanling Hunt and Race Club in the New Territories, Hongkong, Gwanti Racecourse.
Presented by Sir Geoffry Northcote, it was won by Mrs Butcher’s MARCH BROWN.
Governor Sir Mark Aitchison Young also donated a cup to be competed for at the end of the season.
Sir Mark Young, pre-War Governor of the Colony, resumed his office, and attended the Club’s first post-War Annual on 1947-01-15.
1961-02-01, came the CERTIFICATE OF INCORPORATION ON CHANGE OF NAME, quoted:
“with the approval of His Excellency the Governor now given by me on his behalf under delegated powers, it has changed its name to “The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club”
Governor MacLehose and Chairman P G Williams held the 1978-10-07 opening ceremony of Sha Tin Racecourse.
He presented the inaugurate Sha Tin Trophy to SILVER LINING‘s owner Mr Sanford Yung, jockey Bill Hartack and trainer Gerry Ng Chi-lam.
1986-10-22, Sir Edward Youde accompanied Queen Elizabeth who presented the QEII Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse during her second Royal Visit.
1986-12-04, Sir Edward Youde passed away, HKJC half-masted to pay tribute to the first deceased Governor in Office.
Hong Kong racing, however, has close relationship with the leaders of Hong Kong.
Up to 1919 the Governor and the heads of the armed Services were bracketed as Honorary Stewards at the head of the list of officials.
Their contributions to HKJC and Hong Kong racing are undeniably remarkable.
The Don is the best of something, e.g. the don is the head of an organisation.
NELL GWYN, Eleanor “Nell” Gwyn was a long-time mistress of King Charles II of England and Scotland.
MARCH BROWN is “probably the most famous of all British mayflies”, having been copied by anglers to catch fish for over 500 years.
Acknowledgment to Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.