International races to return in bid to boost global popularity
Two years after ditching international races, having believed they had done their job raising the profile of the sport in Singapore, the country's racing officials have revealed they will be reintroduced in 2019.
The Singapore Airlines International Cup, first run in 2000, and its year-younger companion the KrisFlyer International Sprint regularly attracted overseas interest but were scrapped in 2015.
At the time Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani, who won the International Cup with Endless Hall at Kranji racecourse in 2001, described the news as disappointing, and the Singapore Turf Club has announced the return of international competition.
The Cup, also won by Frankie Dettori and Saeed Bin Suroor with Godolphin's Grandera in 2002, was staged over a mile and a quarter, but the new S$3 million (£1.72m/€1.86m) race will take place over a mile.
A S$1.35m (£774,250/€841,000) six-furlong contest will step into the shoes of the International Sprint, which was also run over that trip.
No British horse has won that prize but Iron Mask struck for France and Criquette Head-Maarek in 2001, while fabled Australian sprinter Takeover Target was successful in 2008, a month before finishing second in the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Both races will be held on the third Sunday of May, the same slot as their predecessors.
Their reintroduction is part of a number of tweaks to the Singapore racing programme, which also includes reducing races to 800 in 2018 (from 900 this year) and adjusting prize-money with Class 5 races dropping from S$35,000 to S$20,000. Prize-money for maidens and novice races will, however, be increased from S$75,000 to S$85,000 "to encourage owners to invest more in young, quality horses".
Chong Boo Ching, president and chief executive of the Singapore Turf Club, said: "We are delighted to present the new racing initiatives that will commence from the 2018 racing season. We are optimistic that with these new initiatives we'll not only improve the quality of local racing but at the same time increase international following for Singapore racing."