By March 2027, the site where the Singapore Turf Club (STC) now stands in Kranji would have been restored to the Government in preparation for the construction of new homes and other amenities in the vicinity.
The Lim Chu Kang neighborhood will be transformed into a high-tech agri-food center, and there are plans to reconstruct the region surrounding Woodlands Checkpoint as part of the Remaking Our Heartland initiative.
Horse racing in Singapore has been going on for over 180 years, however due to declining attendance, the tracks must close.
This was a tough decision, but one that had to be made. On Monday, Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah told reporters at the Ministry of Communications and Information that the government regularly reviews land use plans to make sure that resources are optimized to meet the needs of Singaporeans.
Additionally, she said, “We plan not just for this generation, but the next.”
The area is greater than Gardens by the Bay, which covers 101ha of land, at roughly 120ha. This is equivalent to around 200 football fields.
About 350 employees are employed by STC, and they will all be let go by March 2027. On October 5, 2024, STC will host its last race, the 100th Grand Singapore Gold Cup.
In a joint statement released on Monday, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of National Development (MND) stated, “The Government constantly evaluates its land-use planning to fulfill the demands of today while ensuring there is enough space for next generations.” Similarly, attendance in local horse races has been on the decline for some time.
The statement continued by saying that the choice to reconstruct the Singapore Racecourse property will enable for the area to be master planned as a whole to better accommodate future land-use requirements.
MND is looking at additional possible uses, such as entertainment and recreation, in addition to housing.
Compatibility with other land uses in the planning stages for the region will be examined, along with the demands and requirements of other equestrian companies who desire to continue functioning in Singapore.
Both departments confirmed in the statement that layoffs of STC employees will begin in stages 16 months from now, in October 2024.
They will be offered severance payouts, as well as transitional support including counseling, job placement services, individualized career coaching, and training opportunities.
Trainers and owners of racehorses who are not STC employees will be provided with funding for equine healthcare and international transport.
After the last race on October 5, 2024, horses will begin to be exported, a process that will be finished by March of the following year.
The club is home to over 700 racehorses and an additional 38 horses kept under private equestrian boarding. Tenants and livery horse owners may be certain that STC will uphold its current legal commitments to them.
To honor the history of the club and local horse racing, the government will collaborate with the Tote Board, the STC, and other interested parties.
In response to a question about how the government’s budget may be affected by the club’s closure, Ms. Indranee said she did not anticipate any major changes.
Approximately 550 races are run at STC each year, or roughly one racing day each week with 10–13 races.
The organization said that the average attendance each race day dropped from over 11,000 to roughly 6,000 between 2010 and 2019, before the Covid-19 epidemic.
In April 2022, when the racetrack reopened to the public after the Covid-19 disaster, an average of roughly 2,600 people showed up each race day.
Niam Chiang Meng, chairman of the STC, has said that each race generates around $400,000. This helps increase Singapore’s annual earnings from horse wagering, which now exceeds $1.1 billion thanks in part to wagering on races in other countries.
When Singapore’s integrated resorts first debuted in 2010, they brought in an estimated $1.8 billion.
Mr. Niam further said that about this time, interest in horse racing started to diminish as other forms of sports betting emerged. The United States and Great Britain are not immune to this trend.
In 1999, STC relocated to Kranji from its previous site in Bukit Timah, which was slated for redevelopment into residential and other purposes.
The five-story grandstand at Kranji Racecourse can accommodate up to 30,000 spectators, and the track’s light towers made it possible to start holding races at night for the first time.
The club was established in 1842, and the Tote Board was established in 1988 to oversee its operations. In 2019, horse betting was taken over by Singapore Pools.
After racing in Singapore ends in October 2024, Singapore Pools would still enable betting on races abroad.
Though the club is disappointed by the choice made by the government, Mr. Niam assured members that the club will do everything it could to keep operations running smoothly until the last race meeting.
He went on to say that the club’s CEO had met with all employees on Monday morning to assure them of adequate salary.