SINGAPORE — Singapore Turf Club (STC), the site of horse racing in the city-state for over 180 years, will hold its final race in October 2024, before the land in Kranji where it sits is returned to the government by March 2027.
In a media release on its website on Monday (5 June), STC said its final race meeting will be the 100th edition of the Grand Singapore Gold Cup on 5 October 2024.
"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," said its chairman Niam Chiang Meng.
"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.”
STC stated that, while it has tried to elevate the sport of horse racing in Singapore with efforts such as the doubling of feature races, in-person attendance at the racecourse has been declining over the past decade.
It said that, between 2010 and 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the average attendance per race day had declined from about 11,000 spectators to about 6,000. When the racecourse reopened to the public after the pandemic in April 2022, the average attendance fell further to about 2,600.
Phased exit approach to ensure smooth handover
Over the next three years, the club will embark on a phased exit approach based on business needs, in order to ensure the continuation of successful operations and a smooth handover of the land.
Horse exportation will begin following the last race in 2024, and is expected to be completed by March 2026. There are about 700 racehorses at the club and 38 livery horses, which are owned as pets.
Employees will be off-boarded in phases, and will receive support during the transition with a retrenchment package, personal career guidance, skills-training courses and counselling as they transition to the next chapter of their careers. There are currently about 350 staff members at the club.
“During this time, affected employees and those working within the horse racing community will have ample time to consider their career options and manage their personal commitments," said STC president and chief executive Irene Lim.
"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."
Singapore Pools will continue to allow betting on overseas races
STC is managed by the Tote Board when the board was set up in 1988, and Singapore Pools took over the management of horse betting in 2019.
According to The Straits Times, Tote Board chief executive Fong Yong Kian said Singapore Pools will continue to allow betting on overseas horse races, even after horse racing in Singapore stops next year.
STC was founded as the Singapore Sporting Club in 1842 and held its first race at Farrer Park in 1843. It was renamed to its current name in 1924, the same year the first Gold Cup was held.
In 1933, STC moved to the Bukit Timah Racecourse, where it enjoyed strong crowd attendances during its race weekends. It eventually made the move to its current Kranji premises in 1999.
The sprawling 124-hectare Kranji grounds features world-class horse racing tracks and a 30,000-capacity grandstand. According to The Straits Times, the grounds is larger than the whole of Gardens by the Bay, which spans 101 hectares.
According to a joint statement by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Development (MND), the decision to redevelop the Kranji grounds will allow for the land and its surroundings to be "holistically master-planned" to better meet future land-use needs.
Apart from housing, MND is also studying other potential uses, including leisure and recreation.
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