From the saddle to the gig economy? Singapore’s jockeys seek assurances 

Singapore’s jockeys are following the lead of the city’s trainers’ association and its racehorse owners in pulling together to seek clarity.

Singapore's jockeys have raised concerns about the Club being able to continue operating until its proposed closure date. (Photo by Mark Dadswell/Getty Images)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


Harry Kasim has changed his WhatsApp profile image to the food delivery service Food Panda; another jockey has changed his Facebook profile pic to the logo for Grab, the SouthEast Asia ride-hailing and delivery service. 

“Singapore racing will close, but no one knows what is coming, so we had to just laugh at ourselves, keep enjoying life,” Kasim told Asian Racing Report.

The joke, of course, is that these men who risk their lives to ride thoroughbreds in tight quarters at speed, could well end up working a food delivery route as part of the so-called ‘gig economy’. As they say, comedy is funniest when it’s true, but there is no mistaking the gallows nature of the humour here.

Kasim and his jockeys’ room rivals do not want to be delivering chicken and rice on a moped when Singapore racing ends in 16 months.   

Until Wednesday, when 17 trainers and about 30 owners met at Cheval Bistro at Kensington Square to align their collective aims, the Singapore trainers’ association was the only vocal group of organised stakeholders in Singapore; the owners joined them when they formed a committee of seven at that meeting.

Now the jockeys are making initial moves to come together to not only support the trainers and owners, but also to address their own interests as a group. 


All three groups are concerned with how the industry will continue to deliver the weekly sport through to the October 2024 shut-down date, and more particularly the wellbeing and welfare of stable staff and horses through the closure and beyond.

“We want to see if there can be any assurances for us as jockeys,” Kasim said. “We would like some dialogue and some assurances for us to stay here and keep riding until the closing date.

“If there are enough horses and trainers, there will be a job for us as jockeys (until October 2024). So, if we can get together, we can support the trainers and owners. Without us no one rides the horses, we all need each other and without all of us, there is no racing.”

Kasim, Malaysian-born and a Singapore permanent resident after 10 years riding in the city, has taken the lead among the jockeys, and has already made a move to open up dialogue with the Singapore Turf Club.

“I’m doing something for our jockeys; if you sit there doing nothing … well it’s not me,” he said.  “I emailed them last week and asked for a meeting with the CEO and they replied today (Thursday), and they say Club officials will meet with a small group of jockeys’ representatives.

“As we all know, the trainers tried their best to talk to the people about extending and whatnot, but we jockeys have to say what we need to say because our lives are affected as well, especially the permanent residents or even the expats that have ridden here for a number of years.

Jockey Harry Kasim has been proactive in seeking clarity for Singapore's riding ranks. (Photo supplied)

The jockeys’ concerns overlap with those of the owners and trainers and alongside the racing-related issues are the everyday worries around accommodation contracts and children’s schooling. 

“We need dialogue so we can picture what we’re going to do,” Kasim said. “If a jockey is going to move early or stay to the end, everyone will look at what is best for them or their family. We can still make a living for now, as long as there are horses and staff here.

“We don’t know how many trainers will be left, how many horses will be left, or how many staff they will have left, or how many races we will end up having. Singapore is down to one day’s racing a week, but I’m still doing quite well, with seven or eight rides every week, but what happens if the staff start to leave and owners move horses, how many horses will we have, and so how many rides will we get?

“I’m the one that sent the email to the club, so I’m the one that they might not like,” he added, “but you have to do what you have to do.”




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