Development of Horse Racing in Malaysia
Horse racing, as a sport, was brought to Malaysia by British traders who came to the country in the 1800s. Malaysia, therefore, has a very rich horse racing history and the sport has become extremely popular. Even though horse racing was introduced as a foreign sport, it is now a part of the Malaysian culture and is well supported by horse racing enthusiasts.
The first racing event in Malaysia was organized as an amateur event by William Henry Macleod Read, when he established the Singapore Turf Club in 1842. Racing was dominated by ponies brought in to race by foreign traders from countries such as China, but Australia began showing interest in the 1880s, transforming horse racing into a serious sport. Organizers began to set up large race meetings twice a year. The Penang Turf Club was then founded in 1864. As racing grew, the need for a governing body was filled by the founding of the Straits Racing Association in 1896, which would later be renamed, as it is known today, the Malayan Racing Association. In 1921, the inaugural Penang Gold Cup was run, with the first Singapore Gold Cup being held in 1924. Selangor Turf Club, the other large horse racing track, was officially opened in 1896, even though racing had taken place here for a few years prior.
Many countries saw a decline in horse racing during and after World War II, but Malaysia seemed to go virtually untouched by these events, and continued racing as soon as the war had come to an end, expanding on the horse racing industry. Soon weekends were filled with racing, and led to the public being welcomed to these events in 1960. Television and radio also began to promote it to the public. Today, jockeys, trainers and racecourses are well established and there are approximately two thousand horses competing during Malaysia’s racing seasons. Betting is only allowed within the turf parks and breeders have also begun to develop, producing magnificent local competitors. Racing in Malaysia is controlled by the Rules of the Malayan Racing Association, while Pan Malaysian Pools Sdn Bhd operates the gambling side of horse racing in Malaysia. Horse racing contributes greatly to the economy of Malaysia and offers a variety of opportunities to work within the industry.