Jerlyn Seow was seated in a corner of the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf outlet, quietly going through TikTok videos as she waited for this interview appointment.
“Good to meet you,” she stood up and confidently provided a firm handshake, which also revealed exposed calluses.
“That’s caused by bouldering and mountain climbing,” she said.
Seow is not your average 30-year-old.
She is a jockey, and is the Singapore Turf Club’s only female apprentice jockey.
“It was my world, something I really enjoyed doing,” she revealed proudly.
But that world has since come crashing down.
BYE BYE HORSE RACING IN SINGAPORE
On 5 June 2023, the Singapore Government dropped a bombshell when it announced that horse racing in Singapore would cease in October 2024 after 180 years.
The land where the Singapore Turf Club (STC) currently operates at in Kranji to be returned to the Government for redevelopment, with the STC to close the facility by March 2027.
Second Minister for Finance and National Development Indranee Rajah said the Government was studying potential uses for the site, including the number of homes that can be built and that closing STC was “not an easy decision, nor was it made lightly”.
“For me, the announcement was like a bolt out of the blue,” said Seow, who recently got married.
“My whole world came crashing down and I was lost, shattered.
“It has still been hard to take it since the announcement was made, and every day, I still hope that there is some kind of reversal of the decision.
“I felt I was living my dream but now it’s shattered.
“Why does the government want to close this historic industry when there isn’t much recreation or entertainment in Singapore?
“It’s a mistake.”
IT ALL STARTED WITH A HONG KONG TV DRAMA
Seow’s love for racing started with a Hong Kong television drama on horse racing.
“I became curious and there was no turning back after I came across a job opportunity at STC in 2016,” she recalled.
It was then that she left her dream of becoming a veterinary surgeon behind to pursue racing.
“It was tough but I did not give up.”
In a previous interview with STC’s online portal, she said that while “horse racing might be a male-dominated sport in Singapore but what men can achieve in this sport, women can too.”
She has also been interviewed in the Straits Times, and in TODAY.
In the same interview which was published on International Women’s Day, she had suggested that promoting the sport to younger audiences would help to extend the longevity of the age old sport.
“There is so much we can do, and given that the the pandemic had slowed down the sport’s growth, there are still so many questions which are being asked about the STC’s closure.”
WHO’S CARING FOR THE CATS AT THE STC
For now, apart from not having decided what’s next for her in terms of a career, Seow is also worried about the status of the community cats which call the STC home.
Seow is a feline lover, who also has a few of her own.
“Who is going to look after them? Who is going to rehome them?” she lamented.
She also is an admin of the Kranjicats Instagram account and anyone who is keen to adopt the kittens can leave her a DM.
And as the time winds down towards the final race at the STC on October 2024, Seow ended the conversation in a somewhat pensive manner as the subject of what’s next for her arose.
“I still have not decided what’s next for me,” she said.
“Maybe I will help them to clear the land and the trees at Kranji.”
Joking or otherwise, the end of the STC and horse racing in Singapore is still hurting, for Seow and others involved in the industry.
PHOTOS: JERLYN SEOW