OUR MEMORIES
Royal Visit 1975-05-05 Happy Valley Racecourse


Royal Racing; Majestic Meeting

 

INTRODUCTION

 

1975 has been made memorable by the visit of Her Majesty The Queen and His Royal Highness Prince Philip.

Hong Kong racing was greatly encouraged by this mark of confidence and interest.

It was a historic occasion – the first time that a reigning British monarch had visited Hong Kong and the Happy Valley racecourse.

(Although other members of the Royal Family paid such visits and even rode in races before)

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

1975-05-05, million lights of Hongkong and Kowloon were joined by a brilliant series of fireworks sending showers of bright debris down to the harbor.

The spectacle attracted hundreds of thousands of viewers – including the Queen and Duke on board the Royal Navy vessel HMS Chichester.

Nearly seven year, fireworks had been banned in Hong Kong due to the 1967 turmoil.

The Royal Couple left The Tamar and began another enjoyable event — a Monday night racing at Happy Valley.

Their limousine entered through the gate near the 975 start, half way round the track and arrived the Grandstand.

 

 

HIGHLIGHTS

 

The Queen, an avid follower and owner of horses, spent just over an hour at Happy Valley watching two races.

Her majesty attended the meeting – in an informal manner – with many of the leading personalities of the local turf.

She was escorted by the Chairman of the Stewards of the Royal Hongkong Jockey Club, Mr P. G. Williams.

He met the Queen as she stepped out an open-backed limousine at the winning post in front of the stand.

After being presented to the Stewards of the Club and their wives, the Queen watched horses for the Fourth race.

It was the Almeria Handicap, with a parade in the sand ring beside the Members’ Enclosure.

She then went up to the Governor‘s box to see the race which went to the 16-1 outsider OVATION, ridden by young apprentice Tony Cruz.

Trainer Jerry Ng, a former stableman from Shanghai scooped the pool in the first race witnessed by Her Majesty when he prepared first and second.

The outsider of the two, OVATION , returned to form at her third start this time up to win, running away, by four lengths.

Then came her better fancied stablemate SUPER DAY (7-2 favorite) with DOMINIE (9-2) a neck away in third place.

Leading apprentice Tony Cruz, who rode an excellent race on the winner, cantered his mount back to the enclosure with a broad smile on his face.

The excitement did not end there as the consistently pleased winning trainer Ng grabbed hold of the winner and led her to the winning stall himself.

 

Then, a special parade ring was erected on the grass track before the main event of the night.

But, anxious officials’ eyes glanced skywards by that time..

A light skiff of rain fell for a minute as the horses were led out, it passed quickly,however.

The Queen then reappeared on the forecourt before going down to the track where she mingled freely with local racing celebrities.

Accompanied by the General Manager of the Jockey Club, General Bernard Penfold, she renewed acquaintances with former world famous jockey George Moore.

George rode for her in England in 1967 but in 1975 he was the champion trainer in Hongkong.

He also was the holder of the OBE for his service to racing.

Prince Philip, had a word with young Gary Moore whose big hope for the race, OPEN VERDICT, finished in fifth place.

Another big cheer went up when the Queen was presented to leading Chinese rider Derek Cheng who spoke briefly.

The longest serving Valley trainer, Russians Nick Metrevelli and George Sofronoff, were also presented.

 

1975, NAZAKAT, who arrived with the 1975 season’s batch of Australian griffins, had been one of the most consistent and improved horses in Classes II and III.

Only one start before the QEII Cup, NAZAKAT earned his way into the field with an equally determined win against Class 3 opposition over 1,650 metres on the grass track.

In Race 5 held by 10 p.m., the pace was a cracker from the outset with all the runners racing for the first time on the sand.

NAZAKAT relished the conditions to snatch victory in the last 20 metres.

NAZAKAT was owned by Mr and Mrs H T Barma who have been well respected by the Indian and Hongkong community.

The excited couple received the handsome cup from the Queen in a special presentation on the grass track after the race.

Mrs Barma said afterwards: “It was so thrilling. I really can’t believe it. I did not think we were going to win when the other horse went in front. It has been a wonderful night.”

The biggest cheer of the night was reserved for rider Cheam who presented a bouquet of white roses to the Queen before taking the group photo.

 

 

SUMMARY

 

The trophy race wound up the Queen‘s programme of that day.

The Royal Couple returned to the Governor‘s House after the ceremony.

 

 

REFERENCE

 

OVATION was the first winner teamed up with Tony Cruz and Ng Chi-lam.

 

1986-10-22, before another running of QE II Cup, Tony Cruz and Jerry Ng shaked hands with the Queen again 11 years later during her second visit in the Parade Ring of Sha Tin Racecourse.

Instead of his father, John Moore was also introduced to the Royal Couple in that afternoon too.

 

 

RELATED LINK

 

NAZAKAT (Z015) – 《RacingMemories.HK》

QEII Cup Race 1975-05-05_5 – 《RacingMemories.HK》

Queen Elizabeth II Cup – 《RacingMemories.HK》

Royal Visit 1976-10-22 Sha Tin Racecourse – 《RacingMemories.HK》

Royal Visit 1975-05-05 Happy Valley Racecourse – 《RacingMemories.HK》

 

Acknowledgement to Mr Peter YUEN for supplying data.

Acknowledgement to Mr T H BARMA for supplying photos.

 

 

 


 

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