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Ta-ta to the Turf Club?


Jockeys racing at the PTC in George Town in this file photo from 2020.

GEORGE TOWN: The iconic 160-year-old Penang Turf Club (PTC) – the oldest of the three horse-racing clubs in Malaysia – is likely to sell its 81ha land for up to RM6bil.

An extraordinary general meeting has been set for June 10 to obtain approval from the club’s ordinary members for the sale of the land in Jalan Batu Gantong.

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Given that the present market value of commercial land in George Town is about RM700 per sq ft, the site is expected to fetch around RM6bil upon conversion to commercial status.

“PTC has signalled the market through middlemen to look for local and international buyers.

“The highest bidder will get the right to redevelop the land,” said sources, who added that the successful buyer would have to convert the land from its present recreational status to commercial.

Founded in 1864, the PTC received a free land grant on Macalister Road for its course.

According to its website, the first stand and buildings were built from wood and attap and a small annual race was started.

It moved to its current location in 1939. The prime land is located next to the posh Taman Jesselton Heights.

PTC’s approximately 600 members aren’t expected to raise any objections to the sale next month.

Among the interested parties expected to bid are China-based developers and an “old, rich” family based in Penang.

In 2007, the Penang Global City Centre (PGCC) project was proposed on the site of the PTC.

PGCC would have comprised two five-star hotels, a Penang performing arts centre, a retail complex, two office towers, residential properties, a world-class meeting and convention centre, an observatory tower, parking space, monorail transportation, as well as a public arena.

However, the grand plan stalled after the new administration took over Penang in March 2008.

A file photo showing part of the race track at the Macalister Road turf club site in the early 1900.A file photo showing part of the race track at the Macalister Road turf club site in the early 1900.

It announced that the project could not get the approval of local authorities.

An enthusiast, who asked not to be named, said horse racing had also declined in popularity.

“The industry has been struggling to stay afloat for many years, mainly due to dwindling attendance and poor appeal for the sport,” he said.

If the plan is given the green light by members, PTC will become the second turf club in the region to close.

Last year, the Singapore Turf Club announced it would hold its final race in October this year, bringing to a close a 180-year-old chapter of horse racing in the city-state.

It was established in 1842 and originally called the Singapore Sporting Club.

The Perak Turf Club was founded in 1886 while the Selangor Turf Club was founded in 1896.

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