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Clements to bow out of Singapore racing after a quarter of a century

Premier trainer to quit Kranji 12 months ahead of industry’s government-ordered closure

Champion Singapore trainer Michael Clements will close his Kranji stable at the end of September, bringing a premature end to the expatriate Zimbabewean’s 25-year involvement in Singapore racing.

The trainer, who has been a pivotal figurehead of the Association of Racehorse Trainers since the bombshell decision by the government in early June to close the local industry in October 2024, informed clients, associates and friends this week that he had elected to close his stable.

His final race meeting as a trainer at the Singapore Turf Club will be on Saturday, September 30, and his move adds weight to the fear that racing in the island state will be unable to survive until the proposed final meeting in a little over 12 months’ time.

Clements, who did not respond to ANZ Bloodstock News’ calls yesterday, wrote on Monday that he was “grateful for the success I have had” during his quarter of a century based in the Lion City through the support of his owners and the Turf Club.

“Since the announcement of horse racing’s imminent closure, I have been disappointed by the way in which the STC has treated all participants in the industry, especially trainers,” Clements wrote.

“I feel that it is in my best interests to now move on from Singapore’s horse racing industry.”

The trainer of high-class horses, including three-time Singapore Group 1 winner Top Knight (Zoustar), said he was unsure what his next venture would be, only that he intends to take a few months’ off to consider his future heading into the New Year.

He wrote: “I take this opportunity to thank you for your support and I wish you prosperity and success going forward. I look forward to keeping in touch with you in the future.”

Prominent Singapore owner Eric Koh, who manages the King Power and Falcon stables as well as his own portfolio of horses under the Team Cheval banner, has about a dozen horses in training with Clements.

He warned Clements’ exit could be just the start of the exodus if the Turf Club and government doesn’t come forward with promised support packages for trainers and jockeys.

“I guess for Micheal, he has got a good number of horses and he’s got a good base of owners, so by rights he should be one of the last few to exit, but now being the first, it is a shock,” Koh told ANZ Bloodstock News yesterday.

“Some trainers might see that as an opportunity to inherit some of the horses, but then if no action comes from the government or the club, there will be a few others who might make a similar decision.”

While Clements’ decision to shut down his stable has come as a surprise to Koh, the owner can understand why the trainer has made the sudden call.

“Michael did take on a lot trying to represent all the trainers as well as engaging a lot of the owners, the club, the lawyers and the press, so the mental stress was there, then on top of that he had to run his training operation,” Koh said. 

“It definitely took a toll on him, so I can understand why he has made this decision. 

“Hopefully something can materialise soon enough to give the industry a bit of confidence to stay on.”

Equal second alongside Australian Tim Fitzsimmons on this year’s trainers’ premiership with 36 winners, which includes back-to-back victories by promising now four-year-old Gandharvi Racing-owed Coin Toss (Flying Artie), Clements has enjoyed a solid season, having finished in the top three on the premiership table for the past five years. 

He won the trainers’ title in 2020, 22 years after first being granted a licence and having his first runners at Singapore’s old Bukit Timah racecourse. 

He also won two trainers’ premierships in his native Zimbabwe prior to relocating to Singapore.

Koh has vowed to keep racing his horses until the October 5, 2024, deadline and his horses in Clements’ stable will be dispersed to rival trainers.

“I was just speaking to Micheal and I was telling him that hopefully we can get him back into the industry soon enough,” Koh said.

“He needs a short break at least, but at some stage and in some capacity, hopefully I can get him back into the industry somehow.”

Expatriate Australian and New Zealand trainers, including Fitzsimmons, Donna Logan and Stephen Gray, have not yet publicly stated where they intend to go once racing in Singapore ends, or if they will see it out until the end.

Dan Meagher, whose brother Chris trains in Brisbane, previously indicated he would move to Queensland before the end of this year.

Expatriate Australian racing administrator Dayle Brown, who was appointed as the Turf Club’s chief racing officer a year ago, did not respond to questions from ANZ Bloodstock News about Clements’ imminent departure by last night’s deadline.

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