Why Singapore is turfing its turf club

The actual property panorama right here can be distinctive. Whereas condominiums and bungalows go for eye-watering sums on the open market as money pours in from abroad, the vast majority of Singaporeans reside in flats constructed and subsidised by the federal government.

Even so, rising costs throughout the board have made housing affordability and entry a sizzling matter. It has been excessive on the agenda for the long-ruling Individuals’s Motion Occasion as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong navigates a succession plan after 20 years in cost and as his authorities seems to shake off a sequence of current scandals.

Singapore’s gaping wealth divide has additionally been emphasised by the seizing of $1 billion in properties, automobiles and gold bars in a money-laundering probe that has made headlines prior to now month.

Because the loss of life knell was sounded for horse racing in favour of satisfying housing wants, fading curiosity within the sport has additionally been cited as an element. It wasn’t all the time the case. Racing was launched to Singapore in 1842, and it was as soon as thought that it might ascend to be an equal of Asian racing heavyweights Hong Kong and Japan. The turf membership drew common crowds of 11,000 as just lately as 2010 and hosted high worldwide trainers and jockeys. Queen Elizabeth II was trackside at Kranji in 2006 to current the winner’s cup for a race named in her honour.

Up to now decade, nonetheless, attendances have declined, dropping to a mean of 2600 in 2022, as has wagering income, from $1.8 billion to $1.1 billion since 2010, in response to turf membership chairman Niam Chiam Meng.

The opening of glowing casinos at Marina Bay and Sentosa island has reduce into race betting’s turnover and normal enchantment, and it was positioned as an “outdated man’s sport” by younger individuals in a single Singaporean media report after the announcement concerning the turf membership’s demise.


As you may count on, racing’s pressured ending hasn’t gone down properly within the trade. The livelihoods of a whole bunch of trainers, riders and different workers have been upended and the greater than 700 native racehorses must be despatched overseas.

Michael Clements, a Zimbabwean who has educated in Singapore for 1 / 4 of a century and is president of the trainers’ affiliation, believes racing’s slide might need been averted with higher promotion and the guiding hand of leaders with larger expertise within the area.

Greatly surprised by the shutdown information, he mentioned this week he could be closing his steady on the finish of the month.

Michael Cox, the editor of stories website Asian Racing Report and a former reporter with The Age, additionally finds it onerous to fathom that Singapore is meting out with racing simply 24 years after the opening of its $500 million headquarters. The turf membership website had beforehand been in additional central, fashionable Bukit Timah earlier than that location was slated for residential improvement, which hasn’t but materialised.

“In case you go to the housing estates when the races are on, individuals will probably be betting on racing and there’s a tradition with uncles going to the betting retailers,” Cox mentioned.


“Singapore has all the weather that profitable racing jurisdictions have. However racing didn’t have political advocacy … it didn’t have a [Racing NSW chief executive] Peter V’landys or a Hong Kong Jockey Membership.”

Rajah, the second minister, informed parliament it “was not a simple resolution, nor was it made flippantly” however she mentioned the federal government had sought suggestions from the general public and the prevailing view was that extra land was required for housing.

“Singapore is a city-state with restricted land. The federal government regularly critiques its land use plans to fulfill at the moment’s wants whereas guaranteeing there may be adequate land for future generations,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Finance informed me.

“The Singapore racecourse website will probably be used for housing, together with public housing. The Ministry of Nationwide Growth can be learning different potential makes use of, together with leisure and recreation.”

On Saturday, the uncles will probably be again on the monitor for one of many characteristic occasions on the calendar, the Raffles Cup. The top of a protracted period is approaching.

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