The Singapore Turf Club (STC) announced yesterday that the Group 1 Kranji Mile race on May 20 will become an invitational event.
Four international horses will be invited to race, and the prize money of the 1,600m feature event will be increased from $1 million to $1.5 million, making it the richest race in Singapore ahead of the $1.35 million Dester Singapore Gold Cup in November.
In addition to higher prize money, the STC will also pay a bonus of $100,000 to the first Singapore horse past the post in the Kranji Mile while the second one will get $50,000.
The STC said the move to invite foreign horses will serve as a springboard to the Kranji Mile's relaunch as an international race next year.
Jockey-turned-trainer Saimee Jumaat lauded the move to re-introduce international races to Singapore's racing calendar.
"It will do Singapore racing a world of good," said the 46-year-old. "For sure, the level of competition is going to be higher, we get to benchmark our horses against international ones... and it will benefit the local market.
"And, with the loss of international races in the last few years, having them back will bring back the exposure to Singapore, too."
The $3 million Singapore Airlines International Cup and $1 million KrisFlyer International Sprint in 2015 were the last international races held in Singapore.
$1.5mPrize money of the Group 1 Kranji Mile this year.
Last September, the STC announced that it would bring back two international races - the $3 million Kranji Mile and the $1.35 million Group 1 Lion City Cup - next year.
The two races will be staged over 1,600m and 1,200m respectively and will be held on the third Sunday of May, in the same time slot occupied by the two discontinued races.
STC president and chief executive B.C. Chong hopes that these initiatives can create more excitement in the racing scene here.
He said: "We are exhilarated to put Singapore racing back on the world map and believe the way to do so is to offer better incentives and bigger prize money to attract the world's top horses, owners, trainers and jockeys to the Singapore Racecourse.
"This year's Kranji Mile will be a window into the international races in 2019 to drum up early interest and anticipation among the local and international racing communities.
"It is an exciting step forward in Singapore Turf Club's plan to uplift the quality of Singapore racing."