April 21, 2008

inSingapore: Hobnobbing with the hoi polloi at the races

Posted in Travel and Culture tagged , , , at 1:27 pm by myrlinn

Race day and you’ll find hordes of people heading towards the Singapore Turf Club. Yesterday, a group of us joined them, visiting the track on a day when they had feature races, including the Queen Elizabeth II Cup. Good choice, it turns out, as they were allowing ladies in free that day.

We started off exploring the Upper Grandstand. The logical place to start, as it was a really muggy afternoon, and the upper level had air-conditioning. (We did explore the Lower Grandstand later in the evening. My main impression – smoke, smoke and more smoke).

If you’re planning a visit to the race course, try to get there early. You know how we reserve seats at food courts in Singapore by placing a packet of tissue on the table? At the upper grandstand, they do so by draping newspapers (mostly racing pages) over the back of the seats. By the time we got there, all the best seats had been ‘reserved’ that way. So what else were we to do? We plonked ourselves down on the steps between the seats, determined to get a good view of the finish line:

After just one race, though, we made a quick get-away from that area. The punters were definitely showing signs of being annoyed at having to step around us to get up to the betting window. Never get between an addict and his fix, right?

When I first suggested the outing, I pictured us spending a couple of hours looking round. We ended spending something like five hours there. It’s so easy to get caught up in the thrill of picking winners, which was what happened to a couple of our friends. By the second race, they had frowns of concentration as they studied the horses, and they were really focused on making sure they got their bets in before the next race started And to think that they didn’t know a thing about betting on horse races before we got there! It was a bit scary, how intense it all got. On the plus side, their enthusiasm added to the fun, made us feel more a part of the whole scene instead of being just ‘those pesky tourists’ exclaiming over everything.

We didn’t get to see a ‘real’ race start until later. Most of the races start very far away from the grandstand, and the only way to see them is via live video feeds. It looked to me like it was the longer races which started where you could see it directly from the grandstand. This, if I’m not wrong, was a 2000m race:

If I go to the the turf club again, I’m going to spend more time at the Parade Ring (picture below). That’s where they walk the horses before the race. That’s one thing I regret — that I didn’t go there earlier in the day, and that I didn’t go right to the front to get a closer view of those magnificent racehorses.



  1. norman said,

    Win, place, forecast, tierce… so now you know what those terms mean, right? You beat me to it – I have yet to enter the hallowed domains of the kranji turf club. My first visit was to Bukit Timah Turf Club when I was in Pre-U, yes the equivalent of today’s junior college. Years ahead of my age, eh? I had a classmate. Come weekends, he would visit his four legged friends at BT. Lost contact with him already. I wonder whether he’s over at Kranji. Did you win anything? Of course that’s presuming you placed some bets.

  2. myrlinn said,

    Yes, I did learn what win, place, forecast and tierce means. All because of my two friends who got really into the betting thing. We managed to win a bit forecasting the first two placings in one race. And we managed not win anything because we bet on tierce instead of trio in another race. My friends managed to help us end up 50% richer, but since we each put in only $4, I made a grand $2 🙂

    You should really make a trip to Kranji. It’d be interesting, wouldn’t it, to see how different it is from Bukit Timah.

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