SARS Fears Cause Singapore to Cancel Meeting

The $S3 million Singapore International Cup has been cancelled because of fears over the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

The Australian Associated Press reported the May 17 event planned for Kranji racecourse by the Singapore Turf Club will not be held.

In a joint announcement with primary sponsor Singapore Airlines, the Turf Club said the two groups had decided to cancel both the International Cup and the $1 million Krisflyer Sprint.

"The Club and Singapore Airlines deeply regret that the current situation arising from the SARS outbreak in the region has made this decision necessary," STC president and chief executive Yu Pang Fey said.

"We seek the understanding of our business partners associated with the event, as well as the racing fraternity. All of us are naturally extremely disappointed. It was a very difficult decision to make but we believe it was appropriate under the circumstances."

The Singapore International Cup was first run in 1999 and last year was promoted to international group I status for the first time. It was also the first time the race had been run as a leg of the World Racing Series.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club faced a similar SARS dilemma to its Singapore counterparts with the QE II Cup, but decided it inappropriate to meddle with the race because it is the opening leg of the World Racing Series for 2003.

Hong Kong has been able to proceed as it has a greater depth of domestic horses to run a group I race over 2000 metres compared to Singapore.

The cancellation of the Singapore International Cup and the
Krisflyer Sprint will save the Singapore Turf Club an estimated $S8 million in prizemoney and travelling expenses for international horses and their connections.

The QE II Cup will go ahead next Sunday with three international visitors -- defending champion Eishin Preston from Japan, South African star Eventuail and Paolini. Ivan Allan, the only Hong Kong trainer to have won international races overseas, had committed to the Singapore race although his strike force had been weakened with the sidelining of stable star Olympic Express, who is now out of the QE II Cup.