January 17, 2024 3 min read


End of an Era: Macau’s Historic Racing Industry Closes in April

The government confirmed on 15 January that it would revoke the license that allowed the debt-ridden Jockey Club to run the region’s once-great thoroughbred industry

The decision to conclude racing in Macau, effective 1 April, has left the racing community in shock, raising questions about the future of hundreds of industry figures. The demise of racing in Macau was not entirely unexpected, given the financial struggles of the Jockey Club over the years. However, the abrupt timing of the decision has caught many in the industry off guard.

Mounting Challenges Made Racing Unsustainable

The situation in Macau mirrors the recent developments in Singapore, another once-thriving Asian jurisdiction, where racing will end on 5 October this year. The government’s decision to shut down racing in Singapore after 180 years has already led to prominent trainers exiting the scene, with others contemplating 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 in the previous year about relinquishing its contract to operate horse racing at Taipa. The closure will affect 570 employees, but Cheong was adamant that the sector was waning and not worth continued investments.

Following the expiration of the contract, there will be no further public tendering for the operation.

André Cheong Weng Chon, Macau secretary for administration and justice

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, wishing to stay anonymous, attributed the downfall to years of mismanagement, emphasizing the potential of race meetings to be major tourist attractions if suitably supported.

The Decision Seems Final

This 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. The club recorded a significant loss in 2022, adding to mounting challenges since 2018 when it faced contract termination due to outstanding debt.

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.

From April we’ll just have to battle on and make sure the horses that are left behind are well looked after.

Damian Yap, MJC director of racing

Despite rumors of a potential savior to revive racing in Macau, like Chinese billionaire Zhang Yuesheng, 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.

Deyan is an experienced writer, analyst, and seeker of forbidden lore. He has approximate knowledge about many things, which he is always willing to apply when researching and preparing his articles. With a degree in Copy-editing and Proofreading, Deyan is able to ensure that his work writing for GamblingNews is always up to scratch.

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