Owning a racehorse is no longer the exclusive domain of rich oil sheikhs and those with royal blood coursing through their veins, as more and more expats in Singapore take a punt at horse ownership.
Horse racing, much like Formula 1, revels in its glamorous image as a sport enjoyed by billionaires. But, thanks to the growth of syndicates which pool together investors, ordinary punters can take a stake in a four-legged friend at an affordable price.
Although prices vary, horses in Singapore can generally be bought from 50,000 to 150,000 dollars.
Steven Burridge runs his own racing stables at the Singapore Turf Club. He said: “Racing in Singapore has become much more competitive in the last few years, especially now that the prize money on offer has increased significantly. There is over S$67 million on offer every year. Expats are keen to own a racehorse for the pleasure and social aspect which seems to be how racing is being marketed – a lifestyle and a hobby rather than a serious money-making project.”
But that’s not to say you can’t make money out of horseracing. On the plus side, Singapore is one of the cheapest places in the world to own a racehorse. The basic training fee is capped at S$2,500 but every horse usually incurs vets bills in order to keep them racing in tip top condition.
Plus there is an entry fee for each horse entering into a race so the average monthly training bill works out at about S$3,000. Comparable fees in Australia for example would be in the region of S$5,000 a month. Another bonus for racehorse owners is the fact that you get a rebate of S$900 every time your nag races. This is to encourage owners to enter their horses in competitions. The credit rebate can be used to offset your monthly bills.
In Asia, Singapore has always played second fiddle to Hong Kong which has a more vibrant and lucrative racing scene. But the local scheme has been gradually improving with increased prize money and better quality horses taking part.
Since moving to the Turf Club with its excellent facilities and family-friendly policies, new breeds of punters and racehorse owners have emerged, and expats have been among them.
Also stables are now increasingly offering syndicates to pool investors together so they can collectively buy a whole horse. This has been a great boost for fun owners who can purchase a small share in a horse at a low cost. Meanwhile serious enthusiasts can still buy a whole racehorse or look into investing money into young horses with potential.
So what would Steven Burridge’s advice be to beginners?
‘’My tips on racehorse purchase would be to find yourself a trainer who you like by checking out their websites online or contacting the Turf Club directly. Chat with your trainer about what amount you may be interested in investing. The trainer will then set about assisting you to find the right horse. For example horses can be bought before they have ever raced at auctions such as Magic Millions from Australia or New Zealand Bloodstock. Or horses can be bought off the racetrack. For example a horse from Australia who may have won a race or shown potential and would make a nice racing prospect for Singapore.’’
One of the biggest challenges has been the opening of the super casinos at Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa which have seen some punters swap the track for the tables to get their gambling kicks.
While local owners have traditionally been the main clients for stables and trainers, these are now making way for more expat owners. Races are now televised overseas and replays of the races can be watched online so this has made racing much more viewable and accessible to a wider audience, coupled with the huge prize money that is on offer.
It’s also possible to own a racehorse in Singapore while residing in another country. You still benefit from any prize money and enjoy the same credit rebates.
Indeed prize money has been a major catalyst and has been increasing year on year, attracting punters, trainers and owners alike. The big one is the Singapore Airlines International Cup which took place in May this year and boasted prize money of $3 million. For races restricted to Singapore-based horses there is the Longines Singapore Gold Cup with total prize money of S$1.35 million, followed by the Emirates Singapore Derby with S$1.15 million up for grabs. Big numbers that a worthy of consideration if you’re looking at an investment with a difference.
Good To Know
The first horse race in Singapore was run in British colonial times in 1843, a year after the Singapore Turf Club was founded – and 42 years before the Hong Kong Jockey Club came into existence.
Yet Hong Kong’s emergence, along with Japan and Australia, as the top Asian horseracing centre by betting turnover and number of races, has kept Singapore in a distant fourth place. The sport was also tainted by race-fixing, discouraging racehorse ownership.
But since the horseracing hub relocated from Turf City in Bukit Timah to the Turf Club in Kranji, the sport has been enjoying a mini revival. The racehorse population has doubled since 2007 to 1,400 animals.
By Justin Harper