It was first built in 1845 to provide horse racing for the British people in Hong Kong. Before it was built, the area was a swampland, but also the only flat ground suitable for horse racing on Hong Kong Island. To make way for the racecourse, Hong Kong Government prohibited rice growing by villages in the surrounding area. The first race ran in December 1846. Over the years, horse racing became more and more popular among the Chinese residents.
On 26 February 1918, there was a fire and at least 590 people died. By the next day as many as 576 definite deaths were reported by the Hong Kong Telegraph. It is a fire with one of the highest casualties in Hong Kong history.
The track was rebuilt in 1995, and became a world-class horse racing facility. Several football, hockey and rugby fields are encircled by the horseracing track.
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Archive and Museum
The Hong Kong Jockey Club Archive and Museum (or Hong Kong Racing Museum) was set up in 1995 and opened on 18 October 1996. It is now located on the second floor of the Happy Valley Stand of the racecourse.
There are four galleries in the museum:
- The Origin of Our Horses: Shows the migration route horses travelled in the early days from the northern part of China to Hong Kong.
- Shaping Sha Tin: Exhibits the history of construction of Sha Tin Racecourse.
- Understanding Horses: Exhibits the skeleton of the three-time Hong Kong Champion Silver Lining
- Thematic Exhibitions: The history of the Jockey Club is exhibited. Selected charitable organizations and community projects supported by the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust are also displayed in this gallery.
There is also a cinema and a souvenir shop in the museum.
- Hong Kong Jockey Club
- Sha Tin Racecourse