The Singapore Sporting Club, former body of the current Singapore Turf Club (STC), was formed as early as 1842 by Scottish businessman and the chairman of Singapore Chamber of Commerce William Henry Macleod Read (1819 – 1907).
Singapore’s first horse racing track and stand was built in present-day Farrer Park, and the first race took place in 1843. Being an amateur sport during that era, the ground were shared for sheep-rearing and golfing on non-racing days.
The club purchased part of Bukit Timah Rubber Estate in 1927 and the new racecourse at Bukit Timah, Singapore’s second, was completed six years later. However, the racing activities was soon disrupted by World War II, and it was not until 1960 before races were opened to the public. Horse racing proved to be so popular that two giant grandstands were built to accommodate 50,000 spectators.
Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip paid a visit to the Bukit Timah racecourse in 1972, and the Turf Club honoured her visit by establishing a Queen Elizabeth II Cup in that year.
Bukit Timah Saddle Club was set up in 1951 at nearby Fairways Drive, allowing retired race horses to be re-trained in other skills such as show jumping or dressage (also known as “horse ballet”).
Today, remnants of the former race course can still be found, such as the former designs of street name signs and speed limit signs.
Due to the prime location of Bukit Timah, the authority decided to relocate the racing premises to Kranji. By 2000, the new Kranji course, after four years of work and at a cost of S$5 million, was finally opened to facilitate professional horse racing.
Part of the facilities and stables at the Bukit Timah site were demolished after the relocation, as the area was being redeveloped into a food and sale hub known as Turf City. Some of the large fields are also leased out to other sports such as golf, soccer and rugby.
Published: 16 July 2011