Commentary: Was the writing on the wall for horse racing in Singapore?

3 months ago 43

HONG KONG: History will show that the post-mortem examinations began long before the Singapore Turf Club had officially turned cold.

Its last race card on Oct 5, 2024 will feature the 100th Grand Singapore Gold Cup, the jewel in the crown of local horse racing. The gates at the Kranji racecourse will be locked for the last time in March 2027, and more than 180 years of horse racing will be consigned to history.

But it was the announcement on Monday (Jun 5) that prompted chatter, with the international racing community asking how exactly the end had come to pass.

In retrospect the signs have long been there, with the club straining under the weight of falling attendances and revenues, and with the wealth of other entertainment (and gambling) choices now on offer to the public in Singapore. But maybe the comfort found in history simply stopped people from confronting the challenges of the here and now.

“The shock is that racing in Singapore has always seemed such an important part of local culture,” is how the now-retired, Hong Kong-based Australian trainer John Moore put it.


Moore is one of those who should know about Singapore racing. Long before becoming one of international racing’s most successful trainers - with a record of more than 1,700 race wins to his name - Moore had arrived in Singapore in 1970 as a 20-year-old amateur jockey, looking for opportunities to make his mark on the world.

In those days, racing was held at the Bukit Timah Racecourse, where there were gallops on the grass through the trees and a sense that racing was part of the very fabric of Singapore. “You could really sense that history and the excitement, even in the ...

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