Week in Rowe-view

Macau’s racing journey comes to an end

The Macau Jockey Club hosts its final race meeting on Saturday with a 14-race card, providing trainers, jockeys and hundreds of stable staff and administrators, who are facing career oblivion, one last chance to shine at Taipa.

It’s almost certain that racing in Macau will end for good, having hosted thoroughbred racing since 1989, its demise largely brought on through mismanagement by privately owned Jockey Club, which was taken over by the late casino magnate Stanley Ho in 1991.

The government withdrew the club’s licence in January, forcing the club to close as of Saturday.

As we reported on Thursday, expatriate Australian trainer Geoff Allendorf will remain in Macau to ensure his and other trainers’ horses receive the best of care before they are shipped elsewhere.

He will move back to Australia eventually. For others, such as champion trainer Joe Lau, the future is less certain.

Expatriate Malaysian Lau, who was granted his Macau trainer’s licence in 1993, currently leads the premiership with 23 winners.

Former Macau Jockey Club steward and administrator Michael Beattie, who now runs the Clarence River Jockey Club at Grafton, has no doubt that Lau could make a successful fist of training in another jurisdiction if he chose to do so.

“I regard Joe Lau as one of the best horse trainers I’ve seen anywhere in the world that I’ve dealt with,” Beattie told us. 

“When Joe got one ready and said, ‘this’ll win today’, they won more often than they didn’t. If Joe Lau decides to turn his hand to horse training anywhere else in the world he will, in my mind, undoubtedly be a success.”

As for Allendorf, who made it clear he had no intentions of taking out a trainer’s licence in Australia, he may well still be involved with the horses.

“I’d have to have my finger in the pie somewhere. That’s all I can do, I’ve been with horses all my life, a jockey first and a horse trainer second,” he says. 

“I do love my golf, but I can’t win enough money to survive on that. Other than that, I’ll play it by ear.”


While Macau’s racing participants had no choice in closing the door on their careers, Cornerstone Stud’s Sam Hayes of the Lindsay Park dynasty thankfully did.

Hayes chose to exit the breeding industry, selling his share of Cornerstone Stud to his business partner John Frankhuisen and a share of the land to his general manager Sam Pritchard-Gordon.

Hayes, a son of the late Peter Hayes and a grandson of the legendary CS Hayes, has turned his hand to real estate – and he’s doing a fine job of it, too, through his Toop+Toop Rural agency.

Having taken a step back for at least a year, and the selling of Cornerstone being completed around July last year, Hayes has been able to take more of a holistic view of South Australia’s breeding and racing industries.

“The prize-money, after being relatively stable for a long time, it is now heading in the right direction,” Hayes told us. 

“I think it comes back to what is the reward for the participants at the end of the day; most of that comes back to prize-money. 

“There’s no doubt the cost of training horses has risen, like the cost of everything has, over the past three to four years. 

“I think, for breeders, you have to be operating at a level whereby you’re aspiring to sell in the top two or three sales with at least some of your yearlings every year because the cost of producing a yearling [at the Adelaide average] of $50,000 isn’t a long-term model.

“I think there’ll always be, and there’s been a handful of breeders in South Australia who have proven it over generations, a place [for breeding horses in this state]. 

“It’s a beautiful place to raise horses and that doesn’t change regardless of the economic climate. It’s more about making sure you’re breeding to the right stallions with the right mares and selling in the right sale.”

Hayes’ ability to build relationships and enjoy a good time, and making sure his clients did, was part of his success.

Pritchard-Gordon realises his former boss is going to be a hard act to follow.

“John will be the main owner on the farm, but we would love to have [other] high net worth investors who enjoy the good life. The Barossa’s got so much to offer in terms of quality of life and the opportunity to visit,” Pritchard-Gordon says. 

“I’d like to think one thing Sam did instil in us was the ability to host and he’s the greatest raconteur I know. 

“I am not sure I’ll have the ability to hold a conversation quite like Sam, but I’d like to think I can marry up some suitable wines to go with a good dinner and I am really looking forward to opening the doors to some new clients who want to breed topline horses in a state that has hit the bottom of the bell curve and is heading north.”


A quick correction. Miss Debutante (Fastnet Rock), whose first three foals Queen Of The Ball (I Am Invincible), Platinum Jubilee (Zoustar) and Lady Of Camelot (Written Tycoon) have all won Group races, is arguably the best broodmare in Australia right now.

But her feats aren’t unique, which we tried to suggest earlier this week when it was announced that Gimcrack Stakes (Gr 3, 1000m) winner Platinum Jubilee would be offered at the Magic Millions National Broodmare Sale in May. 

There is also Godolphin’s unraced mare Accessories (Singspiel), a European import, whose first three foals were Group 3 winner Bullbars (Elusive Quality), three-time Group 1 winner Helmet (Exceed And Excel) and dual Group 1 winner Epaulette (Commands).

The fifth foal out of Accessories, Pearls (Exceed And Excel), was also a stakes winner, having taken out the Tea Rose Stakes (Gr 2, 1400m).

Accessories, aged 21, has a Ghaiyyath (Dubawi) weanling filly but she was not served in 2023.


And in speaking of Group 1-producing mares, George Ryder Stakes (Gr 1, 1500m) winner Veight’s (Grunt) dam Neena Rock (Fastnet Rock) came up in conversation this week.

There’s a few staunch Collingwood supporters (the Australian Rules football code) and readers of this column and one of them retold the story of Neena Rock, a pinhook filly for Shane O’Bree, a 246-game AFL player for Brisbane and later the Magpies.

During his playing career, O’Bree also dabbled in the horses, buying the passed-in Fastnet Rock filly at the 2009 Inglis Australian Weanling Sale for $25,000 before on-selling her for $80,000 at the Inglis Premier Yearling Sale the following year.

Neena Rock paid for O’Bree’s Bali wedding, held five days after the Magpies’ replayed 2010 premiership victory, the Collingwood fan told us. A subsequent dual Group 3-winning mare, who started her racing career in New Zealand, Neena Rock was sold to a then fledgling Yu Long Investments in 2015 at the Australian Broodmare Sale for $500,000.

The Tony and Calvin McEvoy-trained Veight, who was runner-up in both the Caulfield and Australian Guineas (Gr 1, 1600m), is the first Group 1 winner for Grunt (O’Reilly), Yulong’s foundation stallion.


Popular Inglis bloodstock consultant and Asia representative Jin Tian recently left the auction house, taking up a position with the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

“He was a fantastic team member for an extended period of time and we wish he and his wife well in their exciting new venture,” Inglis Bloodstock chief executive Sebastian Hutch said. 

“He goes with the blessing of Inglis and he is a close friend of ours and will continue to be.”

It is unclear if, when or who Inglis will appoint to replace Tian, who has close links with Yulong founder Zhang Yuesheng, in the important Asia representative role.

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