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Horses being ridden by work riders during a Singapore Turf Club trackwork session on May 15, 2014 in Singapore.
Neville Hopwood | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
After years of placing their faith and hard cash on different horses, seasoned gamblers will soon bid their final bets and farewells to Singapore’s only racecourse.
The Singapore Turf Club on Monday announced that it will hold its final race on October 2024, closing a 180-year-old chapter on horse racing in the city state.
“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,” Turf Club Chairman Niam Chiang Meng said in a press release. It also noted that the racecourse has seen a decline of in-person attendance over the past decade.
Demand for housing in Singapore has been soaring, pushing 2023’s first-quarter private residential property price index up 11% compared to the same period last year.
“Young people don’t bet on horses, they go to casinos now,” Jimmy, a 67-year-old avid horserace bettor from Singapore told CNBC, adding that racing takes place only once a week on Saturdays and at 30-minute intervals.
A general view of the Kranji Racecourse paddock on May 25, 2019 in Singapore. The Singapore Turf Club on Monday announced that it will hold its final race on October 2024, closing a 18-year-old chapter on horse racing.
Lo Chun Kit | Getty Images Sport | Getty Images
That frequency wouldn’t be fast enough for some punters, when compared to the speed and convenience offered by casinos which operate 24/7, he suggested.
Singapore’s one and only horse racing club was founded in 1842 and features a 30,000-capacity grandstand, and it’s operated across three venues starting in Farrer Park, then Bukit Timah, and subsequently in Kranji. The current racing club currently occupies 120 hectares of land in Kranji.
And it was in these stands that Jimmy met his peers. “I’ve lost more money than I’ve won of course,” he chuckled. “But I made some good friends there.” When asked which is his favorite steed, Jimmy quipped: “If I say it out loud, it won’t win anymore!” alluding to a betting superstition that suggests sharing which horses you’ve placed your bets on will diminish your chances of winning.
Jockeys on horseback dashing from the starting point of a race at the Singapore Airlines International Cup at the Singapore Turf Club on 11 May 2002
Roslan Rahman | Afp | Getty Images
Around 700 horses will be exported, and more than 300 employees will be laid off in phases, according to a Ministry of Finance press release. Racehorse trainers and owners will also receive support for the exporting of the horses, the MOF said.
Contractual obligations will also be honored for Singapore Turf Club tenants and livery horse owners. A livery stable is where horse owners pay a fee to keep their horses.
Singaporean real estate agent Travis Low Jia Meng told CNBC that he is saddened by the closure of the racetrack. “It links back to our British roots. If you see Hong Kong, Australia, and the United Kingdom, they all have horse racing heritages,” Low said. “But I understand the land space it was taking up.”