A day at the races

They may have been tasked with a serious job, but there was still time for a little horsing around.

The 15 finalists of Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2016 enjoyed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be part of a unique photo shoot two weeks ago at the Singapore Turf Club in Kranji, with horses as their limelight-sharing co-stars.

Singapore Turf Club is the official presenter of MUS 2016.

One of the finalists, Shona Woo, loves animals and felt very "comfortable" as she had picked up horse riding more than a year ago.

Even though the 26-year-old coding instructor had heard from the other finalists that the horses could be temperamental, she was still excited about the photo shoot.

Shona told The New Paper: "Maybe it's because I'm born in the Year of the Horse.

"The horse trainer told me I could touch the horse, so I was stroking it because I felt that maybe that would calm the horse down, but it wasn't aggressive at all."

Shona's shoot was at the stables and she said the most difficult part was trying to be in sync with the horse when posing.

She added: "We had to make sure we got the correct angle so that the horse would be facing the camera."

For Shanice Hedger, it was the first time in 10 years she had interacted with a horse. The last time she touched one was at a farm in Perth.

The 21-year-old communications undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University, whose shoot was held at the parade ring while the horses were making their rounds in the background, said: "I'm not really scared of them, but because the horses were approaching from behind me, I was a little worried.

"Halfway through the shoot, the crew who were standing in front of me were making faces while looking at the horses, so their reactions scared me quite a bit because I couldn't turn around and see what was going on.

"But luckily nothing happened."


Shanice, who was ferried around on a golf buggy with fellow finalist Hazel Tay, had trouble walking in heels on the padded rubber flooring at the parade ring, but is thankful she did not trip.

"I felt under pressure because we only had a limited amount of time.

"The shoot was also done in (full view of the) public, which was a bit distracting, so I really had to be thick-skinned and ignore the people who were taking photos of me from the stand," said Shanice.

The biggest challenge Luisa Gan faced was getting the perfect shot within a span of seconds.

Her shoot was done outside the marquee - a function venue at the Singapore Turf Club - where spectators view the horse races. The 22-year-old actress and model recalled: "We had to wait 40 minutes for the race to start so that we could get a photo of the horses in the background.

"We went (out) under the hot sun twice to do a rehearsal shoot before the actual one.

"(As) the horses would be out of the race track within 10 seconds, I held my pose for two minutes even before the race started because I was scared that I would miss getting the shot."

Being a "perfectionist", Luisa ended up nailing it in one take.

Mr Simon Leong, Singapore Turf Club's senior vice-president of corporate services, told TNP: "We are delighted to be selected as one of the venues for the MUS photo shoot.

"We are pleased to see the finalists showcase their beauty and vitality against the picturesque backdrop of the Singapore Racecourse and its lush surroundings."

He added: "We had a great time hosting them... and hope that TNP readers are also enjoying these exclusive pictures."

This article was first published on September 29, 2016.
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