By Hans Ebert

My girlfriend asked me this morning why I should be happy that turnover and attendance figures were up for the HKJC after the races at Sha Tin yesterday. What was in it for me? A bonus? A hug? For turnover of HK$1.493,511,869. Up 6.47 percent. Attendance: 38,097. Up 16.73 percent.

Fair question from someone who has no interest in horse racing. A Chinese educated in the US. Possibly lost between the moon and New York City. And being the intelligent person that she is, the answer couldn’t be something pat. There had to be meat to the bones. It also needed some personal internalising. Explaining why the race meeting was a win for Hong Kong. And on National Day.

Though not born in Hong Kong. Though having left Hong Kong only to return and see this city weather many changes, this is home. Where I met the American girl who became my wife. Where our daughter was born. Where many friends have been made. Those from Hong Kong. Those who ended up here and decided to make it there home.

Would I have such an international outlook on life if not living in Hong Kong? No. Hong Kong remains the most international city in the world. And for everyone to see in the horse racing. It goes beyond “the punt”.

Yesterday, an Australian won four races.

A Mauritian won one other race.

Two South Africans won one each. Two young Hong Kong born Chinese boys won one each. There was a winner for an Italian.

Those who follow horse racing know the names of the winning riders. They know the names of the winning horses. The winning trainers. The times. The odds. But looking outside of this “captive audience” is what matters to me. Trying to make the doubters and those not followers of horse racing try to understand this invisible bond between horse racing twice a week and a city going through enormous change. Socially. Economically. Politically. How closely intertwined horse racing is with the mood of the city. Probably even my own moods.

Walking back home after watching the big National Day fireworks display along with everyone else who had come to join in the celebrations, she squeezed my hand. Just my hand.

“You’re more Chinese than I am,” she said. “No”, I replied. “I’m more Hong Kong than you are. And horse racing in Hong Kong is very key in ensuring this city remains international. It’s the only USP Hong Kong has. We should never lose it.”

And then she squeezed something more than my hand. But we were back home by then. She’s a fascinating beast. Like this city. Like my home.

#HKracing #horseracing #NationalDayHK