The racing community in Macau was left in shock when the decision to conclude racing in the area was announced, effective 1 April. The unexpected timing of this news has raised questions about the future of many industry figures who relied on the sport for their livelihood.
The financial struggles of the Jockey Club in Macau over the years have made the demise of racing in the area not entirely unexpected. However, the abrupt timing of the decision caught many in the industry off guard.
This situation in Macau mirrors the recent developments in Singapore, where racing will also come to an end on 5 October this year after 180 years. The closure in Singapore has already led to prominent trainers leaving the scene, with others considering their next moves.
André Cheong Weng Chon, the Macau government’s secretary for administration and justice, stated that the Jockey Club had approached the government about relinquishing its contract to operate horse racing at Taipa. The closure will impact 570 employees, but Cheong emphasized that the sector was waning and not worth continued investments.
The cancellation of horse imports to Macau in previous years led to diminishing fields, causing concerns about the long-term viability of racing. A former Macau Jockey Club employee, speaking anonymously, attributed the downfall to years of mismanagement, emphasizing the potential of race meetings to be major tourist attractions if suitably supported.
The Macau Horse Racing Company has been battling financial losses, further exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19. The impending closure marks the end of an era for the club, which has faced mounting challenges since 2018.
Damian Yap, the MJC’s director of racing, acknowledged that the decision was not unexpected but expressed deep disappointment. Yap pledged to stay on staff for at least six months after the closure to ensure the welfare of the remaining horses. The government plans to relocate the 290 animals at the club to mainland China or other countries by 31 March 2025.
Despite rumors of a potential savior to revive racing in Macau, sources have ruled out any last-minute interventions. The closure of Macau’s historic thoroughbred industry has saddened many who viewed it as a unique and vibrant part of its cultural heritage.
As the countdown begins, the racing community is left with memories of a bygone era, contemplating the future of the sport.