Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Posts From the Way Back Machine #6: A Day at the Races

One of the two legal avenues for gambling in Hong Kong is horse racing. Being both law-abiding citizens and compulsive gamblers, Tiara and I carved out an evening from our busy schedule to go bet on some ponies at the Happy Valley Racecourse.
This slanty shot offers the view down track-side.

It's an understatement to say that horse racing is very popular in Hong Kong. Pictures help give an idea of the scale, though it's impossible to get it all in frame. Here's our best effort to give a sense of the scale:

How better to spend a Wednesday night than at the track with 30,000 of your closest friends?

I've been calling it "gambling," but betting on horses is ostensibly a game of skill, with success predicated on one's ability to judge the horses better than the folks setting the odds. Before each race all the horses are walked out to aid in such evaluations. Tiara and I watched closely and employed our patented 37 factor ranking algorithm. Some of the salient characteristics we evaluate include: "coat luster," "observed dental hygeine," and "general squirreliness."

Horses parading for the benefit of savvy gamblers.

After calculating the odds, we then threw out the careful methodology and placed bets on the horses with the best names. Four races later, we had each chosen a winner. I took my victory on a bit of a long shot when "Nasa Pearl" rocketed from the back of the pack and came first across the line. Tiara placed a somewhat safer bet on "Quality Quality," which delivered a true to name performance.

Tiara proudly displays her winning ticket

We were so successful at picking horses that at the end of the night we made back 37 HKD, on just 40 HKD worth of bets. Take that, Hong Kong Jockey's Club!

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