The news that Tulloch Lodge has been sold to Hong Kong interests, and first reported here last week, has surprisingly met with a roaring silence in the land of Oz with some racing writers and unnecessarily nervous Nellie owners contacting us on Twitter with question after question. A tip, fellas: Replying on Twitter is not only time-consuming and bloody boring, we’re not stupid enough to engage in conversations with those we barely know, and where words can be taken out of context.
Why did the Hong Kong-based Siu family purchase Tulloch Lodge? Why does anyone purchase anything? It’s nothing personal, it’s business. Ask Donald Trump. How much was paid for Tulloch Lodge? We’re not Forbes or Bloomberg. It’s none of our business. But from a very basic business perspective, when there’s an economic downturn and any country’s dollar gets weak, if one has the cash, it’s time to buy- and time for the other party to sell. It’s not exactly rocket science.
The purchase of Tulloch Lodge makes sense, not just from a business perspective, but, more importantly, from a racing perspective. Gai Waterhouse and her racing and training business- Tulloch Lodge- are the most recognizable and arguably the most successful racing and training business in Australia, if not the region and globally. Where other high profile racing and training partnerships have gone through their share of highs and lows and continue to face rollercoaster challenges, success for Gai and Tulloch Lodge have been on-going.
At any given time, Gai and Tulloch Lodge have had several headline acts in their stable to keep the neon lights aglow and flashing non-stop. But even the human dynamo that she is, Gai Waterhouse cannot go on forever, and there is no family succession plan. Son Thomas has no interest in training racehorses and is independently wealthy, thanks to his very astute build up and eventual sale of corporate bookmaking business bearing his name. Daughter Kate, likewise, has no interest in training racehorses, and is a successful businesswoman in her own right.
An inkling of Gai’s future plans surfaced not all that long ago when the rumour mill in NSW suggested that a possible link up with Paul Messara, son of John “the messiah”, in a training partnership, was being discussed and contemplated. Paul Messara’s subsequent decision to scale down his training business, and, instead, take on a more active heir apparent role at the family’s Arrowfield Stud put that possibility to bed.
Having said this, there is no stopping the rumour mill that’s gone into goofy overdrive in Hong Kong- about how “the plan” is for John Size to return to Sydney in two years time and take over the training duties from the First Lady of Australian racing. Really?
We truly doubt John Size has any such plans even when having his most La La moments. And we also seriously doubt a brilliant horseman like John Size has had too many La La moments. So, with this squared away, erase the other “mail” that Joao Moreira will join John Size- at Tulloch Lodge. They’re too busy training and riding winners in Hong Kong.
Besides, any successful Hong Kong based trainer would think twice and twice again before locating to a racing environment where the only two days in which there is no racing are Christmas day and Good Friday. Compare this with all the other perks- housing, chauffeurs, domestic helpers etc etc and a 15 percent tax on earnings that Hong Kong racing- two race meetings a weeks- offers its trainers and jockeys. Leave all this? For what?
As for Lady GaiGai, all we know is that despite the departure of Assistant Trainer Mark Newnham, it will be business as usual with the kinda new training partnership with Adrian Bott – and “training partnerships” work successfully on so many different levels- strengthening what was already in place.
Bottom line: We seriously doubt that Gai Waterhouse is going anywhere for at least another two years. After that? Who knows? Taking in “Cats” in the East End? Gai: The Movie? Rob And Gai: The Musical? Rob And Gai Living With The Kardashians?
For the Siu family, they have had a long racing connection with Tony Bott, father of Adrian. Tony Bott has been an integral part of their racing operations in Australia through their Evergreen Lodge breeding operation in NSW and through the important bloodstock advisory role.
The Waterhouse-Siu-Bott link up could be a marriage of great convenience for the immediate future until an appropriate “big name” trainer is headhunted when Gai decides to ride off into the sunset.
Finding the ‘right” replacement could be like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. There is and always will only be one Gai Waterhouse.
PUNTERS ON HONG KONG RACES SHORT-CHANGED (AGAIN) BY SKY…
Australian punters betting on Shatin races yesterday were again short changed by the less-than-satisfactory coverage of Hong Kong’s ten race card on Sky’s “premium” racing channel – Sky Thoroughbred Central. Viewers were treated to a completely lop-sided and tedious coverage with a seemingly never-ending paddock coverage of Singapore racing with immediate crossing over after horses hit the line at Shatin and returning only after the Singapore race was run and the loading up process in place at Shatin. Confusing when with co-mingling the Hong Kong pools are far in excess of the co-mingled Singapore pools. Ditto with the interest factor.
It is difficult not to believe that Sky and Tabcorp really don’t have their heart and soul in growing the wagering pool for Hong Kong, and, in so doing, maximizing, not just the wagering opportunities, but also the benefits for Australian racing and for Tabcorp shareholders. It is a further reflection of the numbing decision not to separately promote the introduction of the early quaddie on Hong Kong races, and the previously mentioned embarrassing quality of marketing, promotion and advertising of Hong Kong racing and the co-mingled pools.
There should be NO excuse for not giving Hong Kong racing and its large and lucrative co-mingled the priority which it deserves on Sky Thoroughbred Central, particularly on Sundays when viewers are presented with a choice- or should that be no real choice- between watching and punting on some “D” grade nondescript NSW country race meetings, and a premier Shatin race meeting.
Then again, perhaps a more accurate name for Sky Thoroughbred Central might well be NSW Racing Central with Druitt Street fingers on the remote control. Or is that happening, anyway?