Kranji Racecourse: The Authentic Singapore Horse-Racing Experience

Kranji Racecourse: The Authentic Singapore Horse-Racing Experience

The Kranji racecourse, also known as the Turf Club, is nowhere ranked among Singapore's attractions – but perhaps it should be. Experience the electric atmosphere during a horse racing event right here.

It isn’t as famous as Marina Bay Sands, it isn’t as glorious as the Raffles Hotel, and it isn’t as rich as Singapore’s culinary world. In my opinion, however, the Kranji racecourse, also known as the Turf Club, should be among the country’s most visited attractions.

Perhaps it is better that not many tourists come to see the races, so the events remain authentic and inexpensive as they are now. Even many of my Singaporeans friends find no interest in horse racing. It seems that the spectacle is also very much dividing generations.

But the doesn’t mean it’s not worth it.

Image credit: Aussie Assault

A matter of perspective

While trying to convince my friends to join me for the races during the weekends, I realised that most of them have a very wrong impression of what is actually going on.

While some believe that the events are very posh, others have the impression that it is boring and an activity of the forgotten past. However, in reality, it is neither. There are no fancy ladies with oversized hats walking about, nor is the Turf Club run down and abandoned.

To me, the Kranji racecourse it is not just entertaining and exciting from the start to the finish line, but it is also foreign. It reminds me of the reason why I like to travel – the discovery of something that is foreign.

I didn’t grow up with horse racing, but I am now quite familiar with the concept. When I visit the Turf Club, I am thrilled and inspired by the all the processes at work – ranging from observing the horses and studying the numbers on the screen, to marking your bet and losing it on the last ten metres.

Also Read: 10 Expeiences Every Traveller in Singapore Die Die Must Have

Singapore’s racing tradition

The Turf Club in Kranji was officially opened in 1990. It is not the first track in Singapore; the now-closed Bukit Timah Racecourse opened earlier in 1933. The Turf Club offers modern facilities, including lounges and food courts. I would definitely not describe it as posh, though.

There are weekly races at the Turf Club, usually held on Friday nights and Sunday afternoons. Some days there might even be up to 12 different races on both the turf and dirt track. The atmosphere during the races is electric; the excitement of all the race enthusiasts gets the building almost shaking – at least for a few seconds before the race is over.

The access to the races couldn’t be easier, as every MRT map will clearly mark Kranji on the red line. If you pass the station frequently, you will know that unless there is a race, hardly anyone drops off at Kranji. When you get there, keep your MRT EZ-link card close by, as it will be paying your small entry fee of S$5.

When making your way to the grandstand at the finish straight, you will pass a small arena. As many frequent bettors believe in inspecting the horses, one can do so before every single race. Helpers will walk and present the horses, giving you a chance to take a closer look – if you know what you are looking for. I still don’t, but the strength and the grace of each horse never fail to impress me.

Image credit: Aussie Assault

Get your bets right

The tension in the air can be felt immediately when you walk into the vast betting hall. Although I am by far the youngest person in the room (and seemingly the odd one out), no one pays attention to me, as most people have their eyes fixed on newspaper tables and the screens on the walls.

The air-condition takes away the physical heat but one still can sense the bustle in the air – or in form of lost paper bets all over the floor. You might expect chaos and disorder when it comes to horse betting, but the Asian politeness and cool remains the upper hand.

If you don’t know how the betting works (I didn’t), I advise you to study the screens and the paper bets. Although you can also ask around, it will become self-explanatory after five minutes of studying it. Furthermore, I feel it is more rewarding to engage with the material – it made me feel like I know what I am doing.

Studying numbers and names of the horses, one looks for the perfect combination. But let me tell you that simply betting on the winning horse isn’t a very good bet (S$5 per unit). In case you don’t know, there are many different ways you can lose your money.

I advise you to choose Place Forecast (S$2 per unit), which means that you will identify two horses that will place among the first three in a particular race. As there are several possible combinations to win, your chances of winning are definitely higher.

Image credit: Aussie Assault

Cheers and tears

In between races, the atmosphere is tense but strangely calm. However, as the race starts, the euphoric shouts increase and culminate in a peak seconds before the race ends.

An afternoon at the race in Singapore can prove to be very fun, exciting, and distinctly different than most activities in the city. Look at some horses, eat some laksa or enjoy a cold beer as the horses race around the track and the crowd goes crazy for a few seconds. It is simple, but it is authentic and foreign to me. I love it that way it is – so please don’t come.

About Author

Peter Schimke
Peter Schimke

Peter is a freelance writer and author of the novel ‘Beyond Blue’. He has travelled extensively over the past decade and for some reason ends up where there are no tourists to be found. Cocktail bars, bookstores and skate parks are the places you might run into him. He currently calls Singapore his home, as he his banned from Shinjuku, Tokyo (after publishing his book).


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