Horse racing in Singapore, once a rich and powerful mecca for the sport, will come to a shocking and abrupt end in October of 2024 after the Singaporean government announced plans June 5 to reclaim the racecourse land for redevelopment, resulting in the termination of the sport in the jurisdiction.
A statement released by the Singapore Turf Club read: "The government today announced that about 120 hectares of land in Kranji, on which the Singapore Racecourse sits, will be handed back to the Singapore government in 2027 for redevelopment. Singapore Turf Club will close its facility by March 2027.
"The Singapore Turf Club will hold its final race meeting Oct. 5, 2024, featuring the 100th Grand Singapore Gold Cup."
Racing in Singapore has been held for more than 180 years, across three venues in the state, since the Singapore Turf Club was founded in 1842. However, the sport has suffered from a sharp decline in fortunes in recent years.
Falling attendances, exacerbated in the post-COVID-19 era, as well plummeting wagering turnover, has resulted in prize money in the jurisdiction being slashed and the horse population decreasing by a quarter in the space of four years from 2014 to 2018, the last time statistics of this nature were published.
Singapore has had its number of internationally recognized black-type races reduced dramatically, from a high of 24 in 2020 to only eight for the current racing season, headlined by the Kranji Mile (G3) that took place in May.
Twenty-one North American-bred runners found success in some of Singapore's highest profile races. The Pesta Sukan Cup (a locally recognized group 2, except in 1987, when it was recognized internationally) was won four times during 1987-91 by United States-breds. Two of these winners—Nostradamus and Saugatuck—were bred in West Virginia by H. Smoot Fahlgren. The Singapore Derby (local G2) was won in 1989 by domestically bred Istanbul.
In 2017, a son of Run Away and Hide named Forever Young won the Singapore Guineas (local G1) and the Chairman's Trophy (local G2). The colt was bred in Kentucky by Wayne Hunt and Greg and Wilma Lynch. He was a $44,000 buy-back at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Spring 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale and wound up with Asian owner Chi Tat Wong. Forever Young won four races and placed four times in Singapore and earned US$436,495 while racing from 3 to 5.
Parranda, a grade 1-placed, grade 2 winner in the U.S., won the inaugural running of Singapore's richest race, the SI$3.05 million (US$2,248,316) CEFC Singapore Cup (G1), in 2015. The daughter of English Channel won the 1,800-meter race by 2 1/4 lengths for owner China Horse Club and trainer Christophe Clement.
It is understood the government will redevelop the area in land-scarce Singapore for housing redevelopment, as well as for leisure and recreational purposes.
Singapore Turf Club chairman Mr. Niam Chiang Meng said: "We are saddened by the decision of the government to close the Club. At the same time, we understand the land needs of Singapore, including housing and other potential uses such as leisure and recreation.
"We will do our best to ensure business as usual for the Club until our final race meeting. Concurrently, we will work with our stakeholders to ensure a smooth exit for local horse racing and make the necessary preparations for the estate to be handed over to the government by March 2027."
The facilities at Kranji, where racing has been held in Singapore since 2000, include a 30,000-capacity grandstand as well as extensive racing and training facilities.
Singapore Turf Club president and chief executive Ms. Irene MK Lim said the Club would cease its operations in a "phased" approach.
"Singapore Turf Club is extremely proud to have been the home of horse racing for nearly two centuries. We are committed to seeing this phase of the nation's history come to an end in a dignified manner, befitting all our stakeholders, including employees, jockeys, racehorse owners, racehorse trainers, the equestrian community, and horses that have graced our grounds," she said.
"We hope to leave a lasting impression of the Club that will be fondly and proudly remembered by Singapore and the world."
BloodHorse Bloodstock Editor Eric Mitchell contributed to this report.