Name: Horse Racing at Royal Bangkok Sports Club
Address: The Royal Bangkok Sports Club, 1 Henri Dunant street, Prathum Wan, Bangkok. (entrance gate 3 for non-members)
Phone Number: (66) 2652-5000
Price: 50 baht grand stand, 100 baht grand stand behind the winning post, 600 baht Club House, 1600 Baht for winning posts room which includes air con and a dress code.
Opening times: Every other Sunday from 12pm – 7pm
BTS: Siam (then a short taxi ride or walk of 1KM).
Bangkok’s answer to Royal Ascot? Horse racing at the Royal Bangkok Sports Club…and it may come as a surprise that betting is allowed! This prestigious sports club is usually members only and restricted to Bangkok’s high society, but every alternate Sunday its gates open to the general public to enjoy an afternoon of horse racing set against the spectacular Bangkok skyline.
Although lacking in the glamour and over the top hats of Royal Ascot, the grand stand is full of excitement. With a mainly Thai clientelle clutching binoculars and betting tickets, there is a buzzing atmosphere. Due to conflicting email replies from the sports club, we weren’t sure of the dress code prior to attending, but now that we have sweated and suffered in the Bangkok heat, we can safely say there clearly is none within the grandstand. From sandals to trainers and shorts to t-shirts anything seems to go.
To enter the grandstand you need to use entrance 3 from Henri Dunant road. From here, you make your payment of 100 baht and proceed through the turnstiles.
The grand stand is located on three levels, each with its own betting windows and food and drinks options. The view is stunning, particularly from the highest level, and it conveniently overlooks the winning posts. However, be prepared that seating is limited to wide concrete stairs.
At the back of the grandstand you can explore the paddocks and meet the horses before placing your bet.
As for the betting, it is indeed allowed and legal. Programmes in English are available for 100 baht, or in Thai for 50 baht. The programme gives you the race schedule, names of the horses, previous accomplishments, race times, as well as details of the first three favourites.
Once you have chosen your lucky horse you place your bet at one of the windows. Minimum bets are 50 baht and you can bet your horse will be the winner or choose a place bet (meaning you will win if your horse is 1st, 2nd or 3rd). You then receive a paper ticket with the amount you bet and the number of your horse, you need to keep this to claim your winnings.
Although there are screens displaying ever changing odds around the grand stand, working out the odds proves a little confusing and took as quite a while to decipher. The number displayed on the screen is the winnings per 10 baht bet that is placed i.e if you place a 50 baht bet on a horse, you need to multiply the number displayed against your horse on the screen by 5. It may be worth noting that even if you do win, your initial stake is not returned. A final confusing factor is that the odds you are given are relevant to the odds displayed upon commencement of the race, and not the odds when you placed your bet. Therefore we suggest you wait till the last minute before making any life changing decisions!
Should you be a lucky winner, you simply go back to the window and hand over your ticket.
As with any Thai event, there are plenty of drinking and eating options and all are very well priced (Krapow moo 40 baht, 1 roast pork stick with sticky rice 15 baht, can of Leo 45 baht, water 15 baht). Sometimes to tempt you further, the food and drinks are even conveniently brought to you.
We thoroughly enjoyed our day at the races, but next time we attend we’re hoping lady luck is more on our side!