SINGAPORE — The curtain will draw on a 180-year horse racing tradition in Singapore when the Singapore Turf Club holds its last race, the 100th Grand Singapore Gold Cup, next year before they handover the 120 hectares of land in Kranji on which the racecourse sits back to the government in 2027 for redevelopment.
The announcement was made by Indranee Rajah, Second Minister for Finance and National Development, at a press conference held at the Ministry of Communications and Information on Monday, Jun 5.
In a joint media release by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Development, it said that the decision was reached after the government had ‘continually reviewed its land use plans to meet today’s needs while ensuring there is sufficient land for future generations and that the local horse racing has also experienced declining spectatorship over the years.’
Reacting to the development, Singapore Turf Club Chairman Niam Chiang Meng said, “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. We will do our best to ensure business as usual for the club until our final race meeting. Concurrently, we will work with our stakeholders to ensure a smooth exit for local horse racing and make the necessary preparations for the estate to be handed over to the government by March 2027.”
The Singapore Turf Club holds about 550 races per year, and it said that average attendance dropped from about 11,000 to 6,000 from 2010 to 2019 during the pre-Covid 19 pandemic. It worsened when the racecourse was reopened to the public in April last year when the average attendance was about 2,600.
“The government has decided that redeveloping the Singapore Racecourse site will allow for the land occupied by the racecourse (spanning some 120 hectares) and its surroundings to be holistically master planned to better meet our future land use needs,” shared both ministries.
It added that the area comes within other major plans for Singapore’s northern region, which include redeveloping the Woodlands Checkpoint, enhancing Woodlands Town under the Remaking our Heartland programme, and master planning Lim Chu Kang into a high-tech agri-food cluster.
The Ministry of National Development mentioned that the Singapore Turf Club site would be used for housing development, which includes public housing, and they are studying other potential uses for the area, such as leisure and recreation.
“MND 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. MND will provide a timely update on the land use plans after the necessary assessments and studies have been completed. The land is to be returned to the Government in 2027, so that land preparation and redevelopment can commence,” the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Development shared.
Singapore Turf Club employs about 350 employees, and retrenchments will begin in phases, with the first phase at around 16 months. Employees will receive retrenchment packages and be provided with transition support such as counselling, personal career guidance, and skills training courses to enable them to find new employment.
“During this time, affected employees and those working within the horse racing community will have ample time to consider their career options and manage their personal commitments,” said Singapore Turf Club President and Chief Executive Irene MK Lim.