Team Lindsay Park
published: 01 Sep 2016 in Movers and Shakers
COLIN Hayes AM, OBE established Lindsay Park Racing Stable and Stud at Angaston in South Australia in 1965 after deciding to train horses in a country environment rather than the traditional city tracks. Lindsay Park became a hugely successful breeding and racing facility, with many champions being bred and trained there.
Upon Colin’s retirement in 1990, son David took over the reins and kept the Hayes name at the top of the premiership ranks for a further five years, before taking up an invitation to train in Hong Kong. Eldest son Peter took on the trainer’s role in 1996 but sadly passed away in 2001, whereupon assistant trainer Tony McEvoy stepped in until David’s return in 2005. A successful training partnership between David and his nephew Tom Dabernig was formed at the start of the 2014-15 season, and now David’s eldest son Ben has joined for the 2015-16 season.
The development of a “new” Lindsay Park at Euroa, Victoria is something that has to be seen to be believed. This state of the art training facility with no expense spared, is absolutely world class and will ensure the Hayes name remains amongst the leaders in horse racing in Australia.
Bluebloods spoke to David, Ben and Tom about all things Lindsay Park.
Q: David, you had a very good grounding to prepare you to take over the running of Lindsay Park, in what ways has your son Ben been prepared to do the same?
A: “Ben started with me from the time he left school and he did a lot of ‘hands on’ horsemanship initially, he started from the ground up. He then was lucky enough to get the opportunity to travel overseas to broaden his horizons and worked for two good trainers. One season he was with Charlie Hills and the other season with John Gosden.
“John was the leading trainer in Europe at the time, so Ben had the benefit of being able to watch him develop superstars like Golden Horn and was also given the job of managing Criterion, unsupervised. He had the summer in England with Criterion and then brought him back to Australia. Ben had a lot to do with that horse, he won first up here in the Caulfield Stakes and was then unlucky in the Cox Plate and Melbourne Cup. After that, Ben went to South Australia and after six months there, we were second in the premiership with a strike rate better than 28%, so I thought he was ready to be offered a partnership.”
Q: Your other children Sophie, William and JD, are they involved in Lindsay Park at all?
A: “William and JD are focusing on football and university at the moment and Sophie is working at a sports marketing company, Elite Sports Properties. Sophie loves sport, but doesn’t really have a passion for racing. All three boys love riding, they are very good horsemen. Sophie was actually a good rider, but didn’t really enjoy it, so I didn’t push her. Ben still rides two or three horses every morning at Morphettville. He is a very hands-on trainer and has been running the stables there unsupervised and he’s really done a terrific job. If the other two boys want to join Lindsay Park after university and football, there will certainly be a place for them here.”
Q: Your wife Prue plays an active role in the running of the business. That must be a huge plus for you to have her being involved like that?
A: “Prue is very active in the business but more in a management role, rather than the “horse” part of things. Prue is on the board of RVL, she’s a competent businesswoman and that’s a huge asset for me because I don’t particularly enjoy that part. I don’t have to worry about business matters because Prue has got my back!”
Q: What would be a typical day for you at Lindsay Park?
A: “I wake up at 4.30am, ready for track work around five. Then I spend the morning watching the horses work. After that is finished I would spend around an hour with Tom and our vet, looking at the horses’ legs etc. In the afternoon it’s basically strategic planning for the next day, contacting owners or I could also be at the races. We are lucky enough to have our vet and farrier actually working on the property, so that’s a huge advantage, we are very spoilt!”
Q: How many horses would be at Lindsay Park, Euroa at any given time?
A: “We try to have the number at 300, 150 in work and 150 spelling. We have around 75 to 80 staff to look after them.”
Q: Who are the people who had a big influence on David Hayes, both personally and professionally?
A: “My father would naturally be number one, but my brother Peter who passed away, he was also a huge influence on me. He was my boss initially, Dad was the trainer of course but Peter was his foreman. He was 13 years older than me and I learned a lot about horsemanship from him, Peter was a good mentor and teacher.
“The late David Coles, who was Robert Sangster’s manager, was another one who has had a big influence on my life. Robert was of course our stable’s biggest owner and I spent quite a bit of time with David, he would give me lots of ‘subtle’ advice on a regular basis.”
Q: Over the years you have been lucky enough to work with some great horses. Who are some you have a real soft spot for?
A: “I’ve got three ‘soft spots’. Jeune, because he won the Melbourne Cup and was also Australian Horse of the Year; Better Loosen Up, because he was my favourite and also, best horse. He was also Horse of the Year and came along at the time when I first started training. And lastly Miss Finland, who helped re-establish me when I returned from Hong Kong.”
Q: I guess the farm would take up a lot of your time, but do you have any interests outside of Lindsay Park and horse racing?
A: “Yes I do, football. I love following my boys who play for the Bulldogs. So I love watching them play and I also follow the (Adelaide) Crows. Another thing I really enjoy doing when I’m on holidays in America is snow skiing, which I do in Colorado.”
Q: Ben did you always have aspirations to become a trainer?
A: “Yes I did. I grew up watching Dad train and always felt that I wanted to do it too but he never pushed me into it, I just naturally had that desire. I started working with the horses and loved it. I really enjoy getting horses to run well and seeing results.”
Q: You spent a lot of your childhood in Hong Kong while your father was training there, what was that like?
A: “As a young kid growing up there, I have to say that it was a lot of fun. Where we lived was also where the other trainers and the jockeys were also, so I got to play with their sons and daughters. I would spend a lot of time with Dylan Dunn and Chad Schofield, they were there at the same time. “I loved living in Hong Kong, it was a good experience, a good way of life and I enjoyed the Australian international school I attended. If you don’t speak Chinese, it is actually quite easy to get around too, as all the signs are in English.”
Q: I know you played AFL football once you returned to Australia, but you would have had to play different sports in Hong Kong wouldn’t you?
A: “Yes I played rugby and soccer while over in Hong Kong, and then when I came back here I played AFL, and loved it. I played firsts football and competed in the TAC Cup for three years with Sandringham Dragons. After that I played amateur football, so my career was a bit shorter than my brothers. But I had some success, playing in three winning grand final teams.”
Q: You have obviously done a lot of work for your father at Lindsay Park, but you have also worked for trainers in the UK haven’t you?
A: “I loved it as I was curious to see how the English trainers work their horses. I did a lot of riding for Charlie Hills and it was interesting, for example, to see how fast they go in their ‘slow’ work, just some of those subtle differences. “With John Gosden I was a ‘pupil’ assistant trainer. I got to watch a lot of track work with John and his assistant trainer Barry O’Dowd and learnt a lot that way. It was a great experience.”
Q: You would have had some great people who have had an influence on yourself as a horseman and trainer then?
A: “Naturally Dad has been a good influence, but two others, John Gosden from my time in England, and also Tom Dabernig. Tom is a great mentor, if there’s something that I’m not sure of, he will spend the time explaining things. He really has been very helpful to me. “John was also very important, because he didn’t have to give me time but he did. I had a great role in his business and he taught me a lot. There were many things I learnt that I will always keep with me. John had a great season the year that I was there, and it really was an amazing experience.”
Q: You have been very successful since moving to Morphettville to train. What will the future hold do you think? How long will you stay there?
A: “Well if we keep going the way we are, I’d say the Hayes stable will definitely be permanent in Morphettville. As for myself, I’d say I will certainly be here for at least the next couple of years, learning the art of being a trainer, working with Dad and Tom. I’m sure in the future I will get my chances to move to Melbourne or Sydney, but right now I am very happy where I am.”
Q: So Tom, Lindsay Park Euroa has undergone quite a transformation in recent years, how did this all happen?
A: “Well how it all started was David originally bought the property while he was in Hong Kong, it was really just a cattle farm. At the time I was working for Lindsay Park, breaking in the young horses and doing a bit of pre-training and so forth, so I had a good knowledge of the property. David had a definite idea of what he wanted as far as stabling, the water walker, the layout of the track and so on, so the basic concept was certainly from David. “We had the luxury of working Lindsay Park in Angaston, which of course was my grandfather’s concept and so knew a lot of the things that worked really well and then some of the things that could be improved on. I suppose you could say that we tried to make Euroa more labour-friendly. For example at Angaston, the main gallop was eight kilometres away from the stables, but now it is only two kilometres from the stables. The whole farm was a big team effort, there were a lot of people involved in the setup of it, but David was definitely the mastermind of it all. The routines are all ‘bedded down’ now and it’s working really well.”
Q: You’ve been breaking in horses for many years now, what are some of the important things as far as you are concerned with a youngster’s education?
A: “After working with many young horses, one thing I have come to realise is that there’s only so much you can learn from a human mentor about horsemanship, there comes a point where the horse also becomes your teacher. “We put a lot of emphasis on having our young horses well educated and still do all our own breaking in. They get familiar with the way we do things from a young age as we teach them to swim and go on the water walker and treadmill from their early days. They also go on and off the float and get used to the tie-up stalls and barriers, so that when it comes time to be a racehorse they have that advantage of everything being familiar already. And here at Euroa there’s not so much of the hustle and bustle of the city environment so it helps to keep our horses mentally well.”
Q: You and your wife Cassi have two sons, do they have an interest in the horses?
A: “Hugo and Teddy are real animal lovers and it’s great having the country environment for them. Hugo, who is nine, rides ‘safely’ I guess you could call it, while Teddy, five, is still at the early stages. I’m not sure if they are going to be really ‘horsey’ or not, but at the moment they are just enjoying being country kids. Cassi and I have another baby due around Christmas. “Hugo has been to a few race meetings and enjoys following our horses, but Teddy is just a bit young to get a full concept of it all.”
Q: You have been very lucky to be influenced by some of the great horsemen of our time, what would be something that makes certain trainers rise above the rest?
A: “Yes I’ve been lucky enough to be able to spend time with my grandfather, then with David’s brother Peter and then in recent times David. I guess one of the things that I see is quite clear with them is they all have that very competitive nature and they always strive to succeed. I think if you don’t have that real competitive nature you would find it very hard to be as successful as they have been.
“It’s all about constantly working towards goals and when you work with horses, it’s not easy because everything doesn’t always go to plan. You have to try and think what is going to be in the best interest of the horse and that’s where intuition comes into it too. Some people have that natural instinct and seem to know just what to do in most situations to keep the horse happy at all times and we have always believed that a happy horse races more genuinely.”
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