Ride And Own; Own And Ride
Before and after 1884-11-04, Racing Committee and HKJC held races accordingly.
Many of the pillars of horse racing were active owners and riders in Hong Kong.
Quite a few of the more enterprising and helpful proprietors of “stables” were never officials, seldom even attended a meeting of members.
Others were content to donate trophies.
Others merely to enjoy the race Meetings regularly.
Annual Race Meetings were during the administration of Sir H. Pottinger (1841-1844) still held in Macao.
There being no usable overland route, horses came to Macao and Hong Kong by sea.
In those years of sailing ships, transport was speculative enough.
Owners who were also ship-owners or agents would naturally enjoy advantage.
For the names of our earliest “patrons of the Turf” we are dependent, of course, upon Sir Henry May’s 《Notes on Pony and Horse Racing in Hong Kong 1845-1887》.
The first owner mentioned therein is a “Mr Clement”.
The second a “Mr Chance”, who owned a spirited and speedy horse named LOTTERY.
Mr A. Scott, to whom belonged the wonder pony TETOY.
Mr Fletcher have pride of place as the first few known owners.
Of stables, none has been such a consistent supporter of the Hong Kong Turf as that which was started almost at the commencement of racing in Hong Kong – the Jardines.
Messrs David and Joseph Jardine, brothers of the late Sir Robert Jardine, whose name appeared in the records of that year and some subsequent years as a successful rider and owner.
A curiosity among the owners was “Mr Ho Nam”, who was not a Chinese.
A familiar name among early owners was Mr D. Ruttonjee, whose BUSY BEE won the Ladies’ Purse two years in succession, in 1867 and 1868.
He was a kinsman and associated in trade with the Hon. Dhun Ruttonjee’s grandfather, Mr H. Ruttonjee.
Sir Hormusjee was one of the HKJC’s less visible pillars.
He seldom attended meetings of members, and, so far as can be traced, never became a Steward, though occasionally he acted as Judge.
Mody (using the name “Mr. Buxey”) and Chater (using the name “Mr. Paul”) set up a successful stable together.
“Mr Fohkien” had a stable and Mr Gore Booth rode for him.
A member who achieved much prominence in that period was Mr Robert Fraser Smith, Editor of the Hong Kong Telegraph.
He was a keen racing man and owned a small stable more than ten years.
1883-02-24 Ambassador Cup was a two-horse-race, involving as the first alleged fixed or indecent race, he appeared before the court on a charge of “conspiracy”.
Mr Ruttonjee rode for Mr F. S. Gordon’s ponies.
“The Triad Society” entered SILKEN MEAD.
Mr Master usually rode his own ponies in races; but he was an expert jockey and frequently rode for other owners.
He piloted 3 Derby winners.
He had a small training stable, on Morrison Hill, where he lived (a pleasant wooded place of residence, now leveled).
He administered for a time the Kennedy Stables before the Club bought them.
Since Hong Kong’s first China ponies came from Shanghai, here may appropriately enter our story some particulars of Shanghai racing.
Especially as they are of the period just before the China pony established his monopoly at Happy Valley.
The principal rivals for racing honors in Hong Kong even extended to the northern ports.
The most prominent owners appeared to have been Mr Paul (Sir Paul Chater), John Peel (Jardine Member), Mr Ten Broeck and “Mr Risk” (the racing name of Mr John Macgregor).
In Shanghai as in Hong Kong many trophies were presented.
The custom and values were more extravagant there than those in Happy Valley.
Those were the era with multiple identities of owner, trainer, gentleman rider and amateur jockey.
Anyway, the characteristic of owner-rider phenomenon in Hong Kong and many other racecourses was going to change right after the turn of the century.
Most of the successful owners donated trophies in commemoration of their star performers — the Strathpeffer Cup, the Tajmahal Cup, and many others.
Acknowledgment to Hong Kong Racing Museum for relevant content.