The world may be in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic, but it is business as usual for racing in Singapore.
Mark Walker, who trains the New Zealand-based Te Akau operation’s horses there, has been impressed with Singapore’s handling of the coronavirus, which has meant racing has been able to continue on the island nation more or less as normal, with some measures to ensure social distancing.
“It hasn’t really affected us too much,” Walker said. “They have got good systems in place in Singapore. Everyone is temperature-checked coming in and out of the track every day and the same with going to the races. So we have just continued racing.”
While racing has continued, Kiwi Walker said the biggest interruption has been caused by the closure of the Malaysian border. “The Malaysian border is closed and a lot of our staff are from Malaysia, so that has put a bit of pressure on us. The staff in Singapore are just having to work a bit harder.
“We have got enough staff based in Singapore to keep things ticking over. Apart from that it has been business as usual.”
Singapore’s small size and regimented operation has meant the virus has been able to be well controlled, according to Walker. “Singapore is such a small country and everywhere you go is monitored by cameras, so it has been very easy for them to track the virus and the people who have had it,” he said.
“Singapore is one of the few countries that have managed to contain it pretty well. It is nervous times for everyone. If racing were to shut down, there would be a big impact. But at the moment it is going ahead as normal.”
Despite the virus causing distress, Walker said he was delighted with Te Akau’s international success, with both Singapore and New Zealand stables leading their respective premierships.
“I am very happy. Long may it continue,” he said. “I’m looking forward to this weekend where Te Akau Shark looks hard to beat in the George Ryder [G1, 1500m, at Rosehill in Sydney on Saturday], so hopefully he has the right luck in the running.”