TRAVELISTA: JUST JOCKEYS FOR JUST CAUSES IN HONG KONG
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is one of the oldest institutions in Hong Kong. Founded in 1884, The Hong Kong Jockey Club is a horse racing operator and Hong Kong's largest community benefactor, operating as a not-for-profit organization. In 1959 it was granted a Royal Charter and renamed "The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club". The name of the institution was reverted to its original name in 1996 due to the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong in 1997. Membership of the club is by nomination and election only.
This charity provides horse racing, sporting and betting entertainment in Hong Kong. It holds a government-granted monopoly in providing pari-mutuel betting on horse racing, the Mark Six lottery, and fixed odds betting on overseas football events. The organization is the largest taxpayer in Hong Kong, as well as the largest community benefactor. The HK Jockey Charities Trust donated a record HK$3.6 billion ($460M USD) in 2014 to support the different needs of the society and contribute to the betterment of Hong Kong. The Club also proactively identifies funds and develops projects which anticipate and address social issues and pressing needs in Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Jockey Club also provides dining, social, sport and recreation facilities to its approximately 23,000 members.
Founded in 1884 as an amateur body to promote horse racing, it was an exclusive club whose membership was drawn from the upper class with strict rules of membership, with women and people of unsuitable background being banned. This led to the fact that the club had no Chinese members till the 20th century.
The Club evolved into a professional institution from 1971. The Club organized the annual races which took place around Chinese New Year, and was initially financed by commissions on bets which were placed through private clubs.
HM Queen Elizabeth II accorded it with Royal Charter in 1959, and became "The Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club" until 1996 when Hong Kong was returned to the people’s republic of China.
In July 2005, the decision was made to stage equestrian competitions of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Hong Kong. The Club's racing centre at Sha Tin was used as the foundation for the Olympic and Paralympic venues, with additional competition and training venues being incorporated into existing sports facilities at the Hong Kong Sports Institute, the Jockey Club Beas River Country Club and the adjacent golf course.
In 2002–2003, the betting turnover was HK$71 billion (over $9B USD). After paying dividends of 58 billion and betting duty of 9.5 billion, its betting commission revenue was HK$3.9 billion (nearly $500M USD). It contributes 11.7% of Hong Kong's tax revenue. Surpluses from its operation are allocated to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust.
Following the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong, the popularity of horse racing declined substantially, possibly due to economic conditions in the region.
On 16 March 2007, the HKJC appointed William (Bill) Nader, formerly with the New York Racing Association, as its executive director of racing from April 2007.
On 9 September 2007, Sha Tin Racecourse opened after its summer break with record 1-day crowd of about 60,000. Chief Secretary Henry Tang struck the ceremonial gong. The Hong Kong Jockey Club collected US$106 million in bets (highest since 2001).
In January 2008, Eclipse and Sovereign Award winning jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson became the first North American female rider to be granted a license to compete in Hong Kong.
The reform and other changes mentioned above, the HKJC revenue has steadily increased back to previous levels and above. The total racing revenue for the Racing Season 2011/2012 reached HK$86.1 billion (over $11M USD), up 43.4% since the 2006 reform.
Membership in this club is very strict, limited to the moneyed social elite. In the past, this club was reserved for only "old money" families; but currently there are increasing numbers of "newly rich" members.
In the 1950s, as Hong Kong struggled with post-war reconstruction and a massive immigration, there was a need for more charitable structures. HKJC enhanced its charitable role in 1955 by formally devoting its annual surplus to charity and community projects. In 1959, the Hong Kong Jockey Club (Charities) Ltd, was formed to administer donations. This company became the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust in 1993.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club is committed to contributing to the community's long-term sustainability and supporting the different needs of society. In 2014, the Club's Charities Trust donated a record HK$3.6 billion (over $450M USD) to 168 charitable and community projects. The Charities and Community Division proactively identifies and generates projects that anticipate future community and social needs in ten main areas of contributions: Arts, Culture & Heritage; Education & Training; Elderly Services; Emergency & Poverty Relief; Environmental Protection; Family Services; Medical & Health; Rehabilitation Services; Sports & Recreation; and Youth Development. As the Club celebrates its 130th Anniversary in 2015, it focuses its efforts to contributing to the community's long-term sustainable needs covering three overarching themes: 1) Helping build Hong Kong into an age-friendly city; 2) Channeling youth energy into social innovation and 3) Supporting sports projects that can create lifelong positive values and hopes.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club supports many social and education institutions. The Jockey Club Government Secondary School in Kowloon Tong and the Jockey Club Ti–I College in Sha Tin was funded by the then Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club. Many swimming pools or public sport facilities (e.g. HKJC Kau Sai Chau Golf Club) in Hong Kong are supported or founded by the funding of The Hong Kong Jockey Club. In July 2011, the Hong Kong Jockey Club approved funding of HK$249 million for the Hong Kong Polytechnic University Innovation Tower. The tower was therefore renamed Jockey Club Innovation Tower.