present Singapore Derby series might have begun in 1959 but the
Singapore Derby is
one of the oldest feature races on the local turf.
The first Singapore Derby was first run in 1880 with a purse of
$150. The race was contested by ponies from China and won by
MORACIA, owned by A Huttenvach.
It was not until 1895 when the Straits Racing Association’s
racing calendar was first published, that more information was
available about the Derby. That year, the Derby, worth $1,000, was
run twice - at the Spring Meeting in May and the Autumn Meeting in
In 1887, VANITAS won his first Singapore Derby beating LOCKY,
who had on the earlier Derby that year. Vanitas won his second
Singapore Derby in 1898 and triumphed again the following year.
The last Derby to be run at Farrer Park racecourse was in May
1910. It was won by CASTRO. The Singapore Derby was inexplicably
discontinued and substituted by the Governor’s Cup.
The Singapore Turf Club (SNTC) revived the Singapore Derby in
1959, after a lapse of 49 years. The prizemoney was $15,000.
FLYING DRAGON, with Moses Lee (then an apprentice) astride,
ploughed through heavy going to win by three lengths, beating 12
The race was run over a shortened distance of 2,000m in 1967
and 1969 because of the dearth of top class stayers. The 1970
Derby was a sensation. Four horses, owned by Auric Stable and
trained by Rinus van Breukelen, finished 1-2-3-4. KEEP GOING
(Glynn Pretty) beat MAN OF COURAGE (Rod Dawkins), MAN OF HONOUR
(Johnny Wilson) and HUANG HO (Asuwadi Nawi).
A new chapter of the Singapore Derby was written in 1994 when
it was sponsored for the first time. Emirates, the International
Airline of the UAE, put up $150,000 to push the prizemoney to
S$400,000. It was won by NOBLE SPIRITS, ridden by Oscar Chavez.
Purse for the 1995 running was increased to S$500,000. It was
won by COURTLINE JESTER who completed a double the following year,
when Emirates temporarily withdrew their sponsorship.
Emirates was back as a sponsor in 1997 and has remained so
until 2002. In 1998 the SNTC
decided to stage the Derby as a 2,000m event for four-year-olds only.
First winner of the ‘new’ Singapore Derby was OUZO, who
went on to become one of the greatest horses in the local turf.
In 2000, the SNTC open the Derby to international entries and
the race was won by Godolphin Stable’s ALL THE WAY from the UAE.
But from 2002, the Singapore Derby is restricted to 'locals' only.