The inaugural Singapore Airlines International Cup (SIA Cup) was held on March 4, 2000, in conjunction with the official opening of the new Singapore Racecourse at Kranji.
With a purse of S$3 million up for grabs, the race, unsurprisingly, attracted some of the best horses from the four corners of the globe. In a finish that will go down on record as one of the most remarkable milestones in Singapore’s horse racing history, the first edition went to a locally-trained, Ouzo. The New Zealand-bred by Oregon did Singapore proud by producing an astounding turn of foot to deny Jim And Tonic victory by a neck.
To this day, Ouzo remains the only locally-trained horse to have captured the SIA Cup. In the subsequent 12 editions (the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak forced the cancellation of the 2003 edition) winners hailing from the four corners of the globe have flashed past the Kranji winning post as the race has kept growing in stature.
In 2001, the race was awarded International Group 1 status and the following year nominated as the third leg of the World Series Racing Championship.
There have been 13 individual winners from nine different countries (Singapore, England, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Australia, Japan, South Africa, France and Hong Kong) adding their names to the honour roll. Among them, Grandera (2002) and Epalo (2004) are the only two SIA Cup winners to have gone on to win the World Champion title under the now defunct World Series Racing Championship series.
After 13 years of trying, Hong Kong finally tasted success in the SIA Cup when Military Attack became the first horse from the former British colony to land the elusive trophy for multiple Hong Kong champion trainer John Moore, who had come agonisingly close on several occasions previously. Suddenly, the floodgates were flung open as one year later, Hong Kong and Moore celebrated back-to-back victories with Dan Excel.