John Moore says ‘no’ to Macau

The Macau Jockey Club entertained John and Fifi Moore at the weekend, fuelling speculation that the seven-time Hong Kong champion trainer was all set to join the training ranks.

John and Fifi Moore celebrate Beauty Generation's G1 Champions Mile win in 2018. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

David Morgan

Chief Journalist


John Moore is not about to join forces with the Macau Jockey Club and relaunch his training career in the Asian casino hub.

Pictures appeared in Hong Kong’s Chinese language media Saturday evening showing Moore and his wife Fifi at Taipa racecourse earlier that day, alongside speculation that a return to training might be imminent. That fuelled the already rampant rumours emanating from the city that either Mr or Mrs Moore would soon be the holder of a Macau trainer’s licence.

But the Hong Kong legend has scotched that talk.

“No, we won’t be training in Macau in the near future,” the former Hong Kong champion trainer told Asian Racing Report. “We were the guests of the Macau Jockey Club and Arnaldo Ho, they showed us around the stables there and we enjoyed the races very much. They really did look after us very well and a trainer’s licence has been talked about, but it’s a no at this point.”

Moore was forced into compulsory retirement in July 2020, upon reaching age 70, after 35 years as a trainer at Sha Tin. That well-publicised departure came despite the handler receiving the backing of several prominent Hong Kong owners, who lobbied the HKJC with letters requesting they extend the tenure of Hong Kong’s all-time most successful Group 1 trainer.


Joao Moreira drives John Moore's Rapper Dragon to a famous Derby victory. (Photo by Lo Chun Kit)

He subsequently set-up in a joint-trainer arrangement at Rosehill in Sydney with his brother, Gary Moore, but that was short-lived. Moore then relocated to the Gold Coast in Queensland but faced staffing difficulties and was unhappy with the training facilities. He shut down that operation last year.

“We learned a lot going from the great facilities we worked with for so many years at Sha Tin to what we had at the Gold Coast, and the stables in Macau are better than we had down in Queensland, but now is not the time for us to be setting up a new stable in Macau,” Moore added.

Macau racing holds the promise of what might be, as the special administrative region emerges slowly from its long-endured and strict Covid-19 measures, which left the city isolated, even from its close neighbour Hong Kong.

Those Covid restrictions blocked the historically easy and regular cross-channel movement between the two cities, and that in turn has had a negative effect on the Macau racing scene as many of the Hong Kong horse owners with interests in Macau chose to cut back or leave altogether.

One attraction for the Moores giving consideration to a Macau operation could have been that Hong Kong’s Pattern races are now open to overseas horses, meaning that if any stable in Macau is able to attract high-class imports, they could launch regular raids across the Pearl River Delta.

But the Macau Jockey Club has struggled with falling turnover and a much-depleted horse population since the demise of its late billionaire backer Dr Stanley Ho, for whom Moore trained the Hong Kong champion Viva Pataca.

There appears to have been little assistance from the Macau government either, despite Ho’s widow, Angela Leong, a dominant figure in the MJC’s background, being a member of Macau’s legislative council. Her son Arnaldo Ho is the Club’s current boss.

Dr Stanley Ho with his wife Angela at Sha Tin in 2006. (Photo by Kenneth Chan/Getty Images)

Race meetings have been cut back, some of its horsemen have left, and overseas simulcast arrangements, important turnover drivers for the Club, have been shelved: while the MJC is allowed to beam in live feed from Malaysia for betting in Macau, it is not allowed to provide the Macau feed to overseas jurisdictions for betting.    

One positive in the pipeline is the potential for retired Hong Kong horses to move directly to Macau to continue racing. Talks between the MJC and the HKJC, and the respective governments, were ongoing late last year with talk that a possible agreement could be ratified later this year.

The licensing of Moore, a world-renowned name in the sport, could have been an important fillip for the beleaguered MJC which, despite the loosening of Covid regulations, remains shrouded in uncertainty.  




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