(Source: Watiah-Nadia)

In today’s Hong Kong’s Morning Post, there is a very interesting piece on Singapore and the marketing of racing in the city by Alan Aitken.

(Source: Get Your Guide)

Well, marketing might not be the right word as, according to some “Hats” spoke to when there for the very successful race day at Kranji on Sunday- and as he points out, they could have just been talking the talk but walking a different walk- there is almost a veil of secrecy or even a complete blackout on information about the sport.

The Straits Times, the city’s biggest newspaper, for example, apparently, had very little coverage on all the great International racing which took place at Kranji Racecourse. We checked. And double-checked. Badminton had better coverage.

The national carrier Singapore Airlines was the major sponsor and there was still such little coverage of an event which many have said was very well managed by the Singapore Turf Club?

(Source: Singapore Turf Club)

Singapore which some refer to as Swingabore and others call Swingawhore is a paradox- always has been, always will.

Let’s not forget it was Singapore that stopped Cliff Richard from entering the city because of his “long hair” and banned chewing gum.

Sir Cliff Richard sings at his concert in Singapore, February 11, 2007. Photo: SPH/Gavin Foo
(Source: Flickr)

Today, at least on the surface, Singapore is very open and inviting to foreign businesses and is the International media centre in the region.

MTV, E! AXN, HBO etc are all there- Singaporean television productions remain shockingly bad and corny- and with expats who found nothing for themselves in Hong Kong, living the Fat Cat life made up of a bungalow, membership to pukka private clubs, domestic helpers and for the men, a wife at home and a Sarong Party Girl on the side.

(Source: Cultural Weekly)

It’s nice work if you can get it, but also somewhat hypocritical when listening to all the Singapore Pride La La rubbish pumped out by the government media.

Having lived and worked there, Singapore looks to have it all- great bars and restaurants, incredible clubs, shops galore, some of the best food in the world- but underneath this veneer, it lacks that something called soul.

(Source: All Posters Images)

A lady who lives there calls Singapore a city of robots made up of Stepford people.

(Source: Amy Janem)

If you have to do business there or even try and order a drink at a 5-star hotel like the Fullerton, anything not going according to script and doesn’t follow the rules, results in a surreal episode of Lost: “But we don’t serve a Club Sandwich here.” “But I can order a Club Sandwich from Room Service, right?” “Yes.” “Okay, here’s my room number so let me order a Club Sandwich from Room Service and have them bring it here.” “Okay la.”

(Source: HD Wallpapers)

So, amongst this Singaporean buffet of festivals like Gay Nation, joints like Four Floors Of Whores, casinos, football fixer Dan Tan, the well known High Society and its escorts from Perth, is the Singapore Turf Club and racing.

The question is exactly how far will the sport be “allowed” to progress?

(Source: Flickr)

The opening of the casinos aimed at gamblers from Mainland China and Indonesia has stumbled, spluttered and embarrassed Singapore with high ranking local officials playing without credit limits- and losing- and unable to pay their debts.

A few months ago, an Oceans 11-type inside job saw one of the casinos again being taken for a ride.

(Source: Calvin Ayre)

Five years ago, many were ringing the bells of doom for Hong Kong racing and about how Singapore had a more “open approach” to being a horse owner and that the future of racing was in the Lion City.

Today, the abrupt loss of riding licenses for jockeys Stephen Baster and Steven King, Singaporeans- and Malaysians- infiltrating racing in Western Australia in good and not-so-good ways plus a government trying to put the casino genie in the bottle, just might be tying the hands of the Singapore Turf Club.

tied hands
(Source: Times Union)

Let’s hope not. Knowing many who work at the Club and having been there from the early days when legendary ad man Ian Batey ran Batey Ads and listening to his plans for marketing racing in Singapore, the Turf Club needs to find its place and where and how it fits into this very quirky city.

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  1. says:

    Gday Bitch, I read all your stories with great interest, and hope like f..k I never get a bagging myself !!! I was an exchange student in Johor, Malaysia, 27 years ago, I attended a Malay school and sat up the back of the class with the New Strait Times every day. Coming from the thoroughbred industry I always turned to the racing pages first, and could rarely see or find any racing news, and was always disappointed. On my weekends I took myself across the causeway into Singapore and attended race meeting at the old Bukit Timah course, where I met many contacts that I still have today, in fact I have returned there every year since. As you depict below, the racing coverage in the New Strait Times is dreadful, hasn’t changed in thirty years !

  2. Billy J says:

    Well said Jeff. As I’ve explained to my good mate Racingb*tch on many occasions, I was an expat living and working in Singapore for 4 years. I was a racehorse owner and was at the STC pretty much every weekend. The opportunity to become a racehorse owner in Singapore only came about because I had mates in the horse racing industry (from Australia) who worked at the STC, along with mates who were bloodstock agents (from Australia) who bought horses from ANZ & sold them in Singapore.

    As a proud racehouse owner in the investment banking industry, I frequently invited Expat colleagues and “Locals” to join me in attending the races at the STC. The Expats were always keen without question, however, when extending the invitation to “Locals”, their response was usually: “Whaaaaat? Horseracing in Singapore? Noooo, lah. No horseracing in Singapore, lah. Malaysia.” No kidding. And it happened on many occasions.

    My point here is that a large majority of Singaporeans (aside from taxi drivers) don’t even know that that the Singapore Turf Club exists. So what does that tell you about the advertising and marketing of the horseracing industry in Singapore? With the exception of the New Paper and the Shin Min Daily, there is very little coverage of the horse racing in Singapore and the STC does very little to promote it. Even with the influx of expats arriving for the KrisFlyer and the Singapore “International” Cup, no-one in Singapore really seems to take notice, not even Singapore Airlines who sponsors the event.

    So yes, Swingawhore is a paradox- always has been, always will.

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