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Timeline: Last stretch for Singapore Turf Club after more than 180 years

Timeline: Last stretch for Singapore Turf Club after more than 180 years

The original Singapore Sporting Club (predecessor of the Singapore Turf Club) race course in Farrer Park. (Photo: Singapore Turf Club)

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Turf Club will hold its last race in October next year, marking the end of horse racing in Singapore.

The land the Turf Club occupies in Kranji will be handed back to the government by 2027 for redevelopment.

Here's a look back at more than 180 years of horse racing in Singapore:

Oct 4, 1842: The Singapore Turf Club was founded as the Singapore Sporting Club by Scottish merchant William Henry Macleod Read and a group of horse racing enthusiasts. It was then located at Farrer Park. 

It was renamed the Singapore Turf Club in 1924.

Feb 23 & 25, 1843: The club’s first race was held to mark the 24th anniversary of Singapore’s founding by Sir Stamford Raffles. The race day was declared a holiday.

1924: The first Singapore Gold Cup was held, in the same year the club was re-named the Singapore Turf Club. The club's last race, to be held next year, will be the 100th Singapore Gold Cup.

1933: To cater to growing racing interest, the Club sold its Serangoon Road racecourse to the Singapore Improvement Trust and bought 98 ha of the Bukit Timah Rubber Estate to build the Bukit Timah Racecourse. It was officially opened by Sir Cecil Clementi, then Governor of Singapore on Apr 15, 1933.

The opening of the new racecourse at Bukit Timah in 1933. (Photo: Singapore Turf Club)

1942 to 1945: Horse racing was suspended during the Japanese Occupation of Singapore. The grandstand and surrounding buildings became hospitals, while the stables and syces’ or grooms' quarters were converted into military car parks. Fruit trees were grown in the fields and the best horses were shipped to Japan. 

The club reopened in 1947 after the committee spent two years removing damaged military vehicles, and repairing the buildings and tracks.

1950s, 60s: Sunday racing was introduced in 1959, and, in 1960, members of the public could attend the races if they paid the admission fee of S$4. In 1964, Runme Shaw became the first Asian to be elected as chairman of the club.

1972: Queen Elizabeth visited the Turf Club during her state visit to Singapore. A special race, the Queen Elizabeth II Cup was held in her honour.

Queen Elizabeth II’s visit to the Singapore Turf Club on Feb 20, 1972. She was received by then-STC Chairman, Dr Runme Shaw. (Photo: Singapore Turf Club)
The grandstand at the Bukit Timah Racecourse was packed on race days. (Photo: Singapore Turf Club)

1988: The Singapore Turf Club was dissolved in March 1988, and Bukit Turf Club was appointed to take over its racing and 4D draw operations. In 1994, the club changed its name back to Singapore Turf Club.

Aug 22, 1995: Rock star Rod Stewart’s first concert in Singapore was held at the Singapore Turf Club, playing to audience of 8,000.

Aug 7, 1999: The Turf Club moved to the 124 ha Kranji grounds where it's currently located.

Jan 7, 2019: Singapore Pools (Private) Limited took over the management and operations of horse betting from Singapore Turf Club.

2020: The Turf Club suspended all local race meetings from the “circuit breaker” which started on Apr 7, 2020.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, community recovery facilities for foreign workers recovering from the coronavirus were constructed at the Singapore Racecourse at Kranji.

Racing resumed in July, but behind closed doors. The club reopened to the public in April 2022.

The Grandstand and race tracks at Kranji Racecourse. (Photo: Singapore Turf Club)
The entrance of the Singapore Turf Club on Jun 5, 2023. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)

July 2020: Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing said that the Singapore Tourism Board and Tote Board are exploring concepts for the redevelopment of Singapore Racecourse @ Kranji as a leisure destination. 

The redevelopment is to complement the nature attractions in the Mandai area such as the Sungei Buloh nature park, Neo Tiew area and the Mandai nature reserve.

Jun 5, 2023: Authorities announced that the Singapore Turf Club facility at Kranji will close and the land be returned to the government by 2027.

Horse racing in Singapore will come to an end in October 2024. (Photo: CNA/Jeremy Long)
Source: CNA/hm(rj)


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