‘Profound disappointment’: Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges weighs in on Singapore

As trainers prepare for a meeting with owners on Wednesday, the Asian Racing Federation made a rare and strongly worded statement on the shock announcement that Singapore racing would cease in October 2024.

Asian Racing Federation Chairman Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges. (Photo by Getty Images)

Michael Cox



The Asian Racing Federation (ARF) and its Chairman Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges have weighed in on the imminent closure of Singapore racing by issuing a statement that includes animal welfare concerns ahead of a crisis meeting between the city’s trainers and owners at Kranji. 

Engelbrecht-Bresges, who is also Hong Kong Jockey CEO and International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) Chairman, made the statement on behalf of the 28 member nations of the ARF. The statement expressed ‘profound disappointment’ at the Singapore government’s decision to close racing after 180 years in the city and emphasised concerns about the ‘extraordinary demands’ the relocation of more than 700 horses will have on other jurisdictions. 


“Our thoughts are with the participants, owners, stable staff and fans of racing in Singapore,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said. “The decision will have an enormous impact on many careers, businesses and lives which were based upon an expectation that racing would continue in Singapore into the future.” 

The Singapore Turf Club (STC) was an Executive Council member of the ARF and sent delegates to the Asian Racing Conference in Melbourne earlier this year. Despite that presence in Victoria, last week’s announcement clearly took Engelbrecht-Bresges and other ARF officials by surprise. 

“​​The ARF has received a detailed briefing from the STC on the context of the decision and the work being undertaken by the STC to prepare for the task of winding down the racing industry in Singapore,” the statement read, going on to convey “concerns at the consequences that will flow from the decision.” 

The concerns include staffing to properly care for horses through to the proposed closing date in October 2024, maintaining racing integrity until then and the logistics of moving horses. 

Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges and Hong Kong trainer Caspar Fownes at Kranji in 2014. (Photo by Neville Hopwood/Getty Images)

These issues were at the core of an emotionally-charged question and answer session last Friday between Singapore’s trainers and STC CEO Irene Lim, whose apparent lack of understanding of the racing industry and the logistics of the closure sparked a mass walk out by frustrated trainers. 

The ARF rarely takes an active role but it is clear from Engelbrecht-Bresges that there are fears that animal welfare issues could arise given the limited time frame for closure given by Singapore officials and what appears to be non-existent planning and preparation by the STC. 

“Very extensive and intensive planning is now required to navigate major risks and challenges,” Engelbrecht-Bresges said. “Whilst the ultimate responsibility for the consequences of the decision will rest with the authorities in Singapore, I believe that we will need to harness the expertise and resources of the regional and international racing community to avoid major negative outcomes, particularly in relation to horse welfare, which have the potential to arise here.

“The ARF will endeavour to identify areas where we can provide relevant advice to assist the STC during this transition period.”




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