Totalisator (1st version) Happy Valley

Parimutuel for betting; Totalisator of winning




Totalisator, an intricate piece of electronic equipment which records each wager in each betting pool as each pari-mutuel ticket is sold.

This equipment calculates the odds on each horse, according to the amount wagered at given intervals.





Betting, inevitably became a major element in horse racing.

The need of a pari-mutuel machine registering bets and dividing the total amount bet among those who won were also raised in Hong Kong eventually.

1930, HKJC Chairman, Mr C. Gordon Mackie made reference to suggestions for installation of an Electric Totalisator on the course.

But he said that the great additional cost of this was hardly justifiable at that time.

1939, the decision to install it was reached by the board of Stewards, but it was not built until after the War.






Installation of the Electric Totalisator commenced but completion was delayed and it was not brought into use until 2 years later.

Its cost was over $4,000,000 and it was built inside the track facing the stands.

Its towers were 36 ft. 6 ins. high, and its figures were readable from all parts of the enclosure.

It proved to be a little too tall and obstructed the view of the back stretch and the Rock.

Then, its top design was accordingly modified. Its electric clock was a gift from Messrs Ed. Keller & Co.

The Totalisator was finally developed after close study of a few similar models in Australia and the United States.

When it was completed, it was one of only four of its kind in the world.

It accommodated 20 starters, with a five-figure capacity for each.

Occasionally, it was proved insufficient when a favourite was much fancied. (later, the capacity was increased to six figures.)



The limit of number of members was raised again, from 2,500 to 3,500.

Arthur Morse, the Chairman reported that the attendance at race Meetings was close to 15,000.

To cope with the great volume of betting, the long desired Electric Totalisator was installed and timely served.

With the electric Totalisator ready, the public was given some lessons in the modern technique of investment.


1951-02-03, a Totalisator Trial Meeting was held, with a card of four races.

The rules were published in the race-book in both English and Chinese — the first time Chinese script had appeared in the book.


1951-02-24, the Tote came into regular use at the Annual Meeting.

Another improvement at that time was the installation of two photo-finish cameras to assist the Judge.


The entry for 1951 was again very large, and many races were run in sections — the Hopeful Stakes in five, and the Totalisator Handicap in three.

The Chairman commented that the attendance at the course continued to increase and that the Totalisator turnover was 50 per cent above that of the previous year.

A popular habit which puts a strain on the mechanism is the tendency to defer betting until the last moment.

A survey in 1951 noted that, in the first five minutes of betting, on one race only 2,000 tickets were sold, and in the last five minutes 42,500.

Such figures were vivid illustrations of the watching, whispering and waiting before the punters plunge.



Income from “Commission and Sales of Tickets” passed the $25,000,000 mark, as compared with $18,000,000 in the previous year.

The Totalisator and Cash Sweep turnover was $149,000,000 ($96,000,000 for the year before).

The HKJC Chairman added,

“Our record Totalisator turnover exceeds by a substantial amount the maximum takings at any racecourse in England on a single day’s racing.”

The Government raised its tax on the Tote pool from 3% to 5%, the Club taking 10%.



1955-04-24, Totalisator with a chinese styled roof was shown as background in a season finale photo of champion jockeys

Peter Plumbly leveled with Samarcq after terrific duels for jockey title of premiership.



The year was a very profitable one.

The attendances at the course continued to increase, compelling the Club to impose limits of admissions.

The upsurge of Totalisator turnover had also become more pronounced, setting up new records.



An interesting addition to the resources was the boring of two deep wells, on either side of the Totalisator tower.

These enabled better watering of the track, reducing lameness among the horses.


1961-05-05, it came the largest Tote sale for one day, $9,470,690 (on ten races).

Biggest dividend ever paid: $3,711.60.


1961-05-06, WALBROOK won Hongkong Derby and Tote records broken in the final event was the headline the next day.

Largest number of Totalisator tickets sold on one horse to win, 114,837 on PECULIARITY.

It was Race 8, the hottest favorite was ridden by Kenneth Kwok, but was hopelessly misplaced.

The six year-old gelding was never in the hunt and finished well down the field.

Largest number of Win tickets sold on one race, 304,812 (an investment of $1,524,060).



Largest aggregate betting turnover for a year, $195,606,155.

Ordinary Cash Sweeps, $9,828,000; Special Sweeps, $15,892,000; Totalisator, $169,886,155.

Among the Officials, we found a record: Totalisator Manager, Mr G. M. Mac-whinnie, F.C.A.



Total $228,208,480 — comprised of Ordinary Cash Sweeps, $11,590,000; Special Sweeps, $17,068,000; Totalisator, $199,550,480.



1966-10-15 season opening, Derek T C Cheng on FLYAWAY won.

A photo of the finishing shown a panel of Jockey board was added on both sides of Totalisator.





Totalisator, no matter the designs, had been mile-stones of different eras thereafter.

With the erection of the imposing Electric Totalisator with the term “Tote” have been established in Hong Kong racing language.

Many many winning photos depicted such an icon and landmark in Happy valley Racecourse.





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.






Landmarks – Happy Valley Racecourse – 《RacingMemories.HK》



Acknowledgment to Mr Peter Yuen and Mr Kelvin Lee for relevant data.

Acknowledgment to HKJC Racing Registry for offering relevant records.





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