The spots, the Roles and the Toll
Sports Road is the only road has re-named next at the Happy Valley racecourse since 1939.
The amenity once has many sporting facilities and organizations.
Related to sports, they were the original Hong Kong Golf Club, Hong Kong Club, CCC (cricket Club), Hong Kong Football Club, Hong Kong Football Club Stadium, Hong Kong Football Association, etc.
Horse racing, the sports of the kings, has given the foundation of Sports Road right after Hongkong racing was commenced.
1858-05-15, a clear depiction to locate the path of Sports Road was published by《Illustrated London News》.
1939-06-19, Sports Road was gazetted in《South China Morning Post》.
1939-06-20, it was published on《Tai Kung Pao》.
During the Annual Race Meeting, for the Challenge Cup (Two miles), an American horse was entered.
“At the Bridge (Sports Road entrance?) they closed up, and up the incline to the Black Rock both EXETER and BIRMINGHAM were on terms with SIR WILLIAM.”
1869-02-16, the above excerpt shown the first time the path was mentioned using, the name of ‘Sports Road’.
According to page 37 of《Pow Mah》written by Henry Ching, he mentioned the name of the road but not sure about its exact location.
This excerpt shown the second time the path was mentioned using, the name of ‘Sports Road’.
“The race book contained a map of the course showing this tangential extension, which gave the ponies a straight run across where the Hong Kong Football Club’s bowling green now is, and across what is now Sports Road, to the Village Bend. The Five Furlong races could then start on Sports Road.”
According to page 59 of《Pow Mah》a vanished track was mentioned that was the track of Cricket Club , but a map similar to the above description was printed on race book in the 1920s as well.
This excerpt shown the third time the path was mentioned using, the name of ‘Sports Road’.
“Mr Sutton (Clerk of the Course) said the trainers and mafoos had been instructed to take the ponies anti-clockwise along WongNeiChong Road and via the crossroad (Sports Road) past the Golf Club and into the paddock.
At that time tram-cars did not run right around the Valley. They entered the Valley via the very narrow Bowrington Road and reached their terminus via the Monument, then returning the same way and leaving the Valley at Tin Lok Lane.”
According to page 194 of《Pow Mah》 this mentioning of ‘Sports Road’ were extracted yet the name was not officiated.
Actually the path appeared on the old photos of the racecourse as early as the mid-19th century, but road had been gazetted in June 1939.
1939-06-19, its English official announcement was published on 《South China Morning Post》 states that:
“The road beginning at the junction of Wongneichong and Morrison Hill Roads at the Monument, running eastwards across Wongneichong Recreation Ground and terminating at Wongneichong Road by the Hongkong Football Club, will be known in future as Sports Road.”
According to Shen Kut-shing (Lo Kut) ‘s《30-Year In Racecourse》at page 65:
“1947-01-13 ……….. About the Shek Kong military race, it ran about 4 to 5 times in two months in total. Its race track is very funny, there is only half of the sand track with the longest distance, 6 furlongs, if compared with the now Hongkong racecourse, it starts from the Sports Road nearby, the sand track runs to the winning post which is the end of B Ring of sand track. More than one hundred soldiers built this half runway over a week’s time to finish”.
1951-05-12 Race 6, the 74th Derby 1-1/2 miles was held on a heavy rainy day.
The course was very muddy, Hsu W K rode LONDON 17, he defeated GOLD MEDAL (Tao B L) easy.
But unfortunately, Hsu urged to win, he had crossed DYNAMIC VIEW (Pih H C) at the bend of Sports Road (at the bend approaching the 1-1/2 Mile Post ).
After the race, Pih lodged a protest against the winner, the Red Light was flashed.
LONDON 17 was disqualified and that the order of the first four ponies had been moved up.
GOLD MEDAL became the winner, second SQUADRON LEADER and third NORSEMAN, the original winner lost big money finally.
1967-08-30, 《Wah Kiu Yat Po》 reported that “A suspected bomb was found on the Sports Road, then it was detonated by an Army ammunition expert.”
Luckily no one was injured and nothing was damaged by the explosion, that was the time during the Hong Kong Civil Riots.
“Some objectors wanted the transplant expanded to include some of the 49 other Sports Road trees which are scheduled to be axed.”
1993-03-09, 《South China Morning Post 》wrote the above news on .
It proved that the greenery of the old Sports Road benefited to pedestrains.
1993-05-14, HKJC’s plan to expand Happy Valley racecourse was approved by the Executive Council and gazetted.
With historical images over a century, co-existence of the old Sports Road with racing and training in Hong Kong were proved to be inseparable.
1995, Sports Road, was relocated due to the expansion to the northern track of the racecourse.
Only a vague reminisce, even without any relic, can indicate the old Sports Road could be started near the HKJC racing museum.
An anecdote of 1964 on the road:
A 13-year-old boy lived in an old banyan tree in Sports Road for months.
960 meters = 1/2 mile 170 yards; 1207 meters = 6 Furlong; 1609 meters = 1 mile; 1766 meters = 1 mile 171 yards; 2012 meters = 1-1/4miles; 2816 meters = 1-3/4 miles.
Acknowledgment to Mr Lacuda Mengnah; HKJC Archives; Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.