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Tampines Rovers score different type of Gold at Kranji

If yellow was the colour of the day at Sunday’s Dester Singapore Gold Cup at Kranji, it was given another big splash with the presence of the Tampines Rovers Football Club squad throughout the glamour event.

Tampines Rovers score different type of Gold at Kranji

If yellow was the colour of the day at Sunday’s Dester Singapore Gold Cup at Kranji, it was given another big splash with the presence of the Tampines Rovers Football Club squad throughout the glamour event.

The Stags, complete in their yellow polos, have picked the richest day on the Singapore racing calendar to pay a visit to a turf they are not very familiar with, just to chill and soak in a different ambience – including at the parade ring - at the initiative of their new Chairman, Mr Desmond Ong.


The top lawyer is no stranger to the racing industry as he is a horse owner with trainer Shane Baertschiger, and is better remembered for naming two horses after late jockey Jacky Low (died in a motorbike accident in December 2012), namely My Boy Jack and Swinglowsweetjacky.

The ardent Liverpool fan (his stable name is Anfield Stable) said the idea behind was for his new football team to mesh in with the Singapore Turf Club’s sporting culture – and also to reward the team he has been helming since September for their solid performance in the S-League this season.

“I thought it’d be a good idea to try and build up a strong tie with the Club, so as to promote an even stronger sporting culture entrenched in the community,” said Mr Ong.

“I spoke with the committee and my coach Jurgen Raab, and we all thought it would be a good day out for the boys. We’ve got 20 players and five coaching staff here at Kranji today.

“They had a great season to finish as the top local team, only beaten by Albirex Niigata. They have one more game to play next Saturday against Home United, but the title is already decided and we could let the players enjoy an early reward.”

More used to kicking goals at the back of a net, the players were doing their best to understand a sport which after all shared the same spirit with football – winning.

“I actually recently went to the races at Chester in England,” said national defender and English-born Daniel Bennett, 39, one of the Tampines Rovers stars.

“It’s quite different from Kranji as the racecourse has a lot of people standing in the centre, but I can’t imagine us doing this here as it’s so hot!

“Kranji is very nice, too, but I remember going to the races in Bukit Timah before it was closed. Now, we do play at the pitches at Turf City and we can see some parts of the old track there.”

Skipper Fahrudin Mustafic, 36, or “Farra” as he is affectionately named by the Tampines Rovers fans, said he has, however, never been to the races as they do not exist in his hometown of Serbia.

“It’s something new for me. It’s an eye-opener,” said the talented midfielder who also plays for Singapore.

“We have no idea how to back horses. Mr Ong gave us a few tips just now, it’s all good fun!

“It’s a nice way to relax as we had a tough season. We finished second but it could have been better as the fans always expect us to win.

“We are qualified for the Asian Champions League as the best local team. That’s something to look forward to, but it also means we will stay in training after the S-League ends.”

After working with the Singapore national team in 2014 and coaching the Young Lions in 2015, Raab, who has been head coach for the Stags since January, was happy with his first season at Tampines.

“The team has been on target. We had a great finish and we hope we can win our last game next Saturday,” said the 58-year-old German.

“I’m looking forward to next season, but for now, it’s great to be able to enjoy a day at the races with the boys.

“Racing is not so popular in Germany. I went to a country track a few times, but that’s about it.

“But I have to say this is a nice venue, the view to the track is fantastic. I’d like to thank Desmond Ong and the organising committee for such a brilliant idea, and I definitely would love to have more such visits to the races in the future.”


Singapore Turf Club




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