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Horse racing in Singapore to end for good after Singapore Turf Club's closure announced

Horse racing in Singapore to end for good after Singapore Turf Club's closure announced
The closure of the Turf Club means the end of over 180 years of horse racing and betting in Singapore.
PHOTO: Tote Board

SINGAPORE – The land where the Singapore Turf Club (STC) in Kranji sits will be returned to the Government by March 2027, making way for housing and other developments in the area. 

These include previously announced plans to redevelop the area around Woodlands Checkpoint, enhance Woodlands Town under the Remaking our Heartland programme, and transform the Lim Chu Kang area into a high-tech agri-food cluster. 

The closure also means the end of more than 180 years of horse racing in Singapore, which has seen dwindling spectatorship over the years. 

“This was not an easy decision but necessary... There have been increasing needs and demands for land, and the Government regularly reviews our land use plans because we want to ensure that resources are optimised to meet Singaporeans’ needs,“ said Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah at a press conference held at the Ministry of Communications and Information on Monday.

She added: “We plan not just for this generation, but for the next.”

The area, covering around 120ha of land, is the size of about 200 football fields and is larger than the whole of Gardens by the Bay, which spans 101 ha.

STC, which employs about 330 people, will run its last race, the 100th Grand Singapore Gold Cup, on Oct, 5, 2024, before it shuts its facility by March 2027. 

The Ministry of Finance (MOF) and Ministry of National Development (MND) said in a joint statement on Monday: “The Government continually reviews its land-use plans to meet today’s needs while ensuring there is sufficient land for future generations. Local horse racing has also experienced declining spectatorship over the years.”

The statement added that the decision to redevelop the Singapore Racecourse site 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.

It will also take into consideration the needs and requirements of various equestrian entities that intend to continue operating in Singapore, including compatibility with other land uses being considered for the area.

STC staff will be retrenched in phases starting 16 months from now, in October 2024, said both ministries in the statement.

They will receive support during this transition in the form of retrenchment packages, counselling, job placement assistance, personal career guidance and skills training courses.

Racehorse trainers and owners, who are not STC staff, will receive support for horse maintenance and exportation.

Horse exportation will begin following the last race on Oct 5, 2024, and be completed by March 2026. 

There are currently about 700 racehorses at the club and 38 livery horses, which are owned as pets.

STC will continue to honour existing contractual obligations with its tenants and livery horse owners.

The Government will also work with the Tote Board, STC and other stakeholders to commemorate the heritage of the club and local horse racing.

STC currently holds about 550 races per year, or about one race day per week, during which 10 to 13 races are held.

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, the club said.

When the racecourse reopened to the public in April 2022, the average attendance per race was about 2,600, which is less than half of the average pre-Covid-19 attendance.

STC chairman Niam Chiang Meng said each race brings in about $400,000, which adds up to $1.1 billion a year currently.


This number has fallen from about $2.1 billion in 2010, when the integrated resorts were opened in Singapore.

That was roughly when interest in horse racing began its decline, as other sports betting options came up, he added. This decline is also seen in other countries, such as the United States and Britain.

STC had in 1999 moved to Kranji from its old Bukit Timah location, which has also been earmarked for housing and other uses.

The Kranji racecourse seats up to 30,000 spectators in a five-storey grandstand and includes light masts, which allowed for the introduction of night racing then.

The club was founded in 1842, and in 1988 became managed by the Tote Board when the board was set up. Singapore Pools took over the management of horse betting in 2019.

Tote Board chief executive Fong Yong Kian said Singapore Pools will continue to allow betting on races overseas, even after racing in Singapore ceases in October 2024.

Mr Niam said that while the club is saddened by the Government’s decision, it understands the land needs of Singapore and will do its best to ensure business as usual till the final race meeting.

He added that the club’s chief executive officer had briefed all the staff on Monday morning, and told them they would receive fair compensation.

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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