Racing

STC rolls out big plans for racing

New initiatives could bring in top horseflesh and improve quality for racing

If being a racehorse owner has been sitting on your bucket list for a long time, now is the time to act.

The Singapore Turf Club has just rolled out new initiatives aimed at improving the quality of local racing.

Uppermost on their "to-do" list is to adjust the prize money to "favour and encourage quality".

To make it attractive to owners to sought out and bring in quality horseflesh, the club has said that Group 1 and Group 2 races (with the exception of the Aushorse Golden Horseshoe) will carry minimum prize money of $1 million and $500,000 respectively.

However, the prize money for the two long-standing and ever-popular Singapore Gold Cup and the Emirates Singapore Derby will be unchanged. The Gold Cup is a $1.35 million race while the Derby has a purse of $1.15 million.

But there is an even bigger incentive for owners to add quality to the local horse population.

NEW INTERNATIONAL RACES

Come 2019, the international races will be back.

In its new masterplan, released mid-week, the STC announced that it is bringing back two new international races.

To be run over 1,600m and 1,200m, the two races will carry prize money of $3 million and $1.35 million respectively.

They will fill in the slots left vacant when the hugely popular Singapore Airlines International Cup - commonly known as the SIA Cup - and the KrisFlyer International Sprint were discontinued in 2015 after thrilling racegoers since 2000.

The decision to hold off the international races until the 2019 season was made so as to "give owners and trainers time to invest in horses that will be competitive in those races".

Like it was with the SIA Cup and the Krisflyer Sprint, the new international races will be staged on the third Sunday in May.

The Group 1 Kranji Mile race will be brought forward to May and will be held on the same day as the Group 1 Lion City Cup to create an exciting day of racing for the top horses in Singapore.

The Chairman's Trophy with a new distance of 1,600m will also be brought forward to the first week of May to serve as a lead-up race to the Kranji Mile.

Consequently, the races for the Singapore Triple Crown series will be changed with the Raffles Cup (new distance of 1,600m) becoming the first leg instead of the Kranji Mile.

The Queen Elizabeth II Cup - and 1,800m event - will become the second leg while the Singapore Gold Cup remains as the final leg.

As expected, the news was well received by all connected with the racing game.

With quality, not quantity, being the buzzword, the club will also be reducing the number of races a year from 900 to 800. And race distances will also be capped at 2,000m instead of the longer 2,200m.

Said Chong Boo Ching, the STC president and chief executive: "We are optimistic that with these new initiatives, which commence from the 2018 season, will not only improve the quality of local racing but at the same time, increase international following for Singapore racing."

Racing