The announcement of the impending closure of horse racing in Macau has sent shockwaves through the racing community. The decision, effective April 1st, has raised concerns about the future of hundreds of industry professionals. While the financial struggles of the Macau Jockey Club over the years made the demise of racing somewhat expected, the abrupt timing of the closure has caught many off guard.
This move mirrors the recent shutdown of racing in Singapore, another once-thriving Asian jurisdiction, after 180 years of operation. The closure in Singapore has already led to prominent trainers leaving the scene, with others contemplating their next steps.
André Cheong Weng Chon, the Macau government’s secretary for administration and justice, revealed that the Jockey Club had approached the government the previous year about relinquishing its contract to operate horse racing at Taipa. The closure will affect 570 employees, but Cheong emphasized that the sector was no longer worth continued investments.
The cancellation of horse imports to Macau in the previous year resulted in diminishing fields, raising concerns about the long-term viability of racing. A former Macau Jockey Club employee, speaking anonymously, blamed years of mismanagement for the downfall, emphasizing the potential of race meetings to be major tourist attractions if suitably supported.
The impending closure marks the end of an era for the Macau Horse Racing Company, which has been battling financial losses, further exacerbated by the impact of COVID-19. Damian Yap, the MJC’s director of racing, acknowledged the closure 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.
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 to closure begins, the racing community is left with memories of a bygone era, contemplating the future of the sport.