It may have been Parranda, the chestnut mare ridden by star Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon, that made headlines over the Lunar New Year weekend for winning the richest race on local soil — the $3.05 million CECF Singapore Cup — but, to many, the new race series means so much more than record price money or punting. CECF, after all, is short for the China Equine Cultural Festival.
As Teo Ah Khing, chairman of race organiser China Horse Club, told an invite-only reception at Marina Bay Sands on the eve of the race: “There will be eight horses that will not win. But this is the spirit of being a horse owner; one has to be a graceful loser. I have 26 young members whose US$1 million memberships were paid by their parents just so they can learn how to be graceful losers.”
Sharing the aim of promoting sportsmanship, and the lifestyle and culture associated with equine racing, Prestige and sister title PIN Prestige co-presented the feature support race, CECF Singapore Prestige Classic. Ridden by champion jockey Manoel Nunes, it was New Zealand-bred filly Kiwi Karma who scored a late upset to win the $200,000 title, the first-ever presented by the two luxury magazines. Group Publisher Melvin Ang, Director of Operations Laura Lim and Grace Lee, Managing Editor of PIN Prestige, were all on hand at the champion's podium to present the cup to Kiwi Karma's owner, jockey and trainer.
As for the invited guests who filled the VIP boxes, race day was a glamorous affair with many dressed to the nines. In a lavender pink blazer paired with a blue striped shirt and red pocket square Dato' Yahaya Abdul Jabar was named the Best Dressed Gentleman of the day, while Paris-based Chinese artist Li Xiao Ling, who channelled Katherine Hepburn in a cream pantsuit and wide brimmed hat, was named Best Dressed Woman.
Li's oil-on-canvases were also featured in an art exhibition and charity auction held at the ArtScience Museum prior to race day. Her works were displayed alongside those by the likes of Mao Wen Biao, Huw Williams and Jean-Marie Fiori. With guest speakers, including former NMP Tan Su Shan, who spoke on inspiring a giving and gracious society, and guest auctioneer Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts co-founder Claire Chiang, the auction raised $350,000 for beneficiaries including Community Chest Singapore and Riding for the Disabled Association of Singapore.
Luminaries who flew in especially for the CECF include Joseph Deiss, former president of the United Nations General Assembly, philanthropist Sir Owen Glenn and Dato' Tan Chin Nam, founder of IGB Corporation.