SME Champions is a series featuring the people behind Singapore’s homegrown enterprises. It tells the stories of their relentless pursuits towards success and the things that keep them going.
Unless you love horses or actually own one for horse racing purposes, you are not likely to have heard of Yellow Stable, a stable located at Kranji.
Set up in 2018, Yellow Stable offers a one-stop service for racehorse owners.
“We source racehorses from overseas and bring them to Singapore to race. The racehorses are then sold to individual racehorse owners or syndicates,” shares its director Mr James Ng.
In addition, Yellow Stable partners with trainers to train and prepare the racehorses for races organized by Singapore Turf Club.
As one can imagine, it is no easy effort to own a stable, much less run one. After all, Singapore has a far smaller market than horse racing-mad Hong Kong.
But this did not deter Mr Ng, who had always loved horses and dreamed of owning racehorses. His dream came true in the year 2004 – the year that Singapore Turf Club started the Sapphire Racing trust, which was offered to the public at $14,500 per stake.
Without any hesitation, he participated in the racing trust – his first venture into racehorse ownership. To his surprise, he enjoyed good returns for his participation in the trust, which gave him the confidence to venture into racehorse ownership.
“Knowing that one would require quite a sum of money for racehorse ownership, I started saving up for it. It was not until 2016 that I embarked on my racehorse ownership using my savings,” he recalls.
“As I started to expand my stable, I realized that I needed more funds to procure good racehorses. That’s when I started Yellow Stable to secure more funds.”
Thankfully, Mr Ng had the necessary experience to give him an inkling of what setting up a stable would involve.
“Being a racehorse owner and having worked with several trainers, I understand the pain points of racehorse owners and trainers. Yellow Stable was incorporated in 2018 to provide a platform that will benefit both trainers and racehorse owners.”
He also knew one more thing: In order to do well in the horse racing business, it is important to have good racehorses and racehorse trainers.
“That is why before I started Yellow Stable, I went around looking for good partners who were well versed in procuring racehorses and racehorse training.”
Mr Ng’s efforts eventually paid off. He managed to find great trainers and “someone who has a good eye for racehorses”.
Currently, Yellow Stable owns five racehorses and provides training services for 15 horses.
But there were other challenges to overcome. One of these was securing sufficient funds to procure good racehorses and cover the monthly charges of maintaining the racehorses.
To solve the problem, Yellow Stable sought the assistance of funders and agents, one of which was Lendingpot.
“Funding is crucial for running a racehorse business, so I’m grateful to Lendingpot for assisting Yellow Stable to reach out to potential funders. We managed to talk to several serious funders, and received financial support and tips,” he says.
But more challenges were on the horizon – namely, the COVID-19 pandemic, which disrupted businesses big and small when it hit Singapore in February 2020.
“With the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, horse racing was suspended for a period of about three months,” recalls Mr Ng.
“When horse racing finally resumed, there was a drop in the number of races and the prize money.”
This led to many racehorse owners exiting the horse racing scene since the pandemic, including one of his major customers – which would be a big blow to Yellow Stable. But he didn’t give up.
“I had a long discussion with the customer to understand why he wanted to leave, especially when he had big ambitions when he first ventured into horse racing.
“I realized that he was having some difficulties in managing his finances despite his commitment to horse racing. I sat down with him and managed to work out a financial plan for him. In the end, he stuck with Yellow Stable and is currently reaping profits from horse racing.”
Thanks to his business conviction and strong relationships with his customers, Mr Ng managed to retain all his customers after “much discussion and persuasion”.
Yet despite these obvious challenges, the pandemic also presented new business opportunities.
For instance, after quite a number of racehorse owners moved their horses overseas to Hong Kong and Australia, there was less competition in the Singapore horse racing scene.
Mr Ng and his team even managed to solicit more people to become racehorse owners, which expanded Yellow Stable’s customer base.
Almost two years after the pandemic broke out, Yellow Stable’s business situation has more or less stabilized, with most people coming to terms with living with the virus, and adapting to the new normal.
“With Formula One races suspended, the next best thing if you are looking for speed racing in Singapore will be horse racing,” he shares.
“Race horse ownership is quite affordable in Singapore, and you get to enjoy quite a number of perks as a racehorse owner. We have actually seen an influx of customers since the pandemic.”
Mr Ng is thankful for every one of his customers.
“My customers have always shown support for my business. We often discuss the status of their horses and they are supportive of our suggestions in getting horses from overseas to replenish their stables with.”
There was one such customer who became a racehorse owner because of his daughter, he recalls.
After this customer brought his daughter to a riding school one day, his daughter fell in love with horses. The customer eventually got into racehorse ownership – often bringing his daughter to the stable – where she would pet and feed the horses with a smile on her face.
“On her eighteenth birthday, my customer brought his daughter to the owner lounge to see his racehorse run. On that day, his horse won the race, and I still remember the unforgettable smile his daughter had.”
Seeing his customers experience such heartwarming moments at Yellow Stable keeps Mr Ng going and motivates him to make more plans, which include getting more trainers and racehorse owners next year.
“We would also like to beef up our current stable of racehorses so that we get the opportunity to race our horses overseas in Hong Kong and Australia.”
He has some inspiring advice to give SME owners who are facing challenges – words that have helped him through some “bad times”.
“Always believe in yourself and persevere. The storm you are facing is not a hindrance, but the force that helps clear the obstacles in your path.”
Yellow Stable is located at Turf Club Avenue, Singapore 289304. Call 9696 7764 for enquiries.
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Belinda loves thinking about random stuff, and collecting useless bits of facts and trivia. She often roots for the underdog, and believes the world needs more happy endings.