John Meagher to Move from Singapore to Brisbane

Jan 29, 2011

After spending 11 years in Singapore, Australian trainer John Meagher and his sons have made the shock decision to bow out of the scene to return home.

Meagher ended the mounting speculation about his departure by officially tendering his letter of resignation to the Singapore Turf Club on Wednesday.

He will be relinquishing his licence with effect from 20 February 2011.

The 62-year-old Melbourne Cup-winning trainer will therefore saddle his last two runners – Monkey Man and Village – this Friday night.

His next venture will be the setting up of a training partnership with sons Chris, Paul and Daniel in Queensland at their recently-acquired 84-acre Rivermead property at Nerang on the Gold Coast.

“In all fairness to my sons, it was about time for us to train back in partnership, and that's why we're heading back to Australia as we can't do this here,” said Meagher.

“It would also have been difficult for them to train there individually. I think with my experience and their
youth, that's the way the competition is going in the future.

“We will train as a family. It's a great place to train - an ex-polo club in immaculate condition where we'll refurbish the boxes and build a new track, a swimming pool and water walkers. 

“We will also have a satellite stable in Melbourne so we can have horses in both centres and that means the best of both worlds.

“I'm very proud of my relocation to Singapore and have enjoyed immensely being part of the development of Singapore racing. But we're excited about this new phase in our lives and it was time to move on.”

An emotional Meagher looked back on his time in Singapore.

“I still remember having breakfast with Mr Lau (Kian Heng, then VP of Racing) and Dr Brian Stewart (then chief veterinary surgeon of the Club) at Chiquita Lodge in Flemington one day in May 1999,” he reminisced.

“I came up here, liked what I saw and moved my whole family over. My father Jack, who was a soldier from the 2/29th Battalion defending Singapore during World War II, would have been proud of me coming here and achieving success.

“We arrived in September 1999 just before the grand opening of Kranji and we were lucky we got off to a fairytale start as our first runner Quorum won!”

Some 575 more winners were subsequently led in at their new stomping ground at Kranji by Meagher or either Chris and Daniel, while Paul worked behind the scenes at the stables.

The Meagher golden era certainly captured the imagination of local racegoers with their host of successes (29 Group wins including seven Group 1s) including the 2000 Singapore Gold Cup with Kim Angel, three Raffles Cups (Mayo's Music in 2004 Lim's Classic in 2006 and Lim's Objective in 2007) and one Lion City Cup with Arenti in 2006.

But Meagher said his proudest moment did not come from any of the abovementioned Group 1 wins, but in an arguably less prestigious race - overseas.

“All these wins were memorable because that's what we're in this business for, win Group races, but I got my biggest buzz when Lim's Classic won a Listed race in Dubai in 2005,” he said.

“Not because of the prestige but more so because it was the first time Dan was all by himself and responsible for the supervision of Lim's Classic's campaign in Dubai. I was so proud of him.

“Winning the Melbourne Cup was great, but winning that race in Dubai with my sons was even more gratifying.

“I was also happy I was the first to win an International race since Ivan Allan won with Colonial Chief in Hong Kong and it was a real pride for me to fly the Singapore flag as an Australian representing Singapore with a horse owned by Singapore owners.”

One owner has been with him every step of the way – Mr Lim Siah Mong of the Lim's Stable.

“I've had the support of many owners and they have all been fantastic,” he said.

“But you can't imagine how honoured I am to have been a key player in the rise of Mr Lim Siah Mong (champion owners in 2007 and 2008) in becoming a leading owner in Singapore.

“He was one of the first to approach us in September 1999. He had no horses, he heard of our good name and background and he was very happy to get involved.

“It's always a pleasure when Mr Lim and his partners win a race, and not only with the horses I train.”

Meagher's 60-odd horses will be spread among mainly Steven Burridge, Laurie Laxon, Hideyuki Takaoka, Basil Marcus and Bruce Marsh.

He said his biggest regret during his Singapore tenure was not to miss out on the title but not to win the Singapore Derby instead.

“Barring 2000 and 2008 when we had an ordinary year, we've always finished in the Top 5, and that's a record I'm proud of.

“I've always believed in going for quality more than quantity. My main aim was to win as many feature races
here and the only domestic big race missing is the Derby.”

“The Singapore Turf Club has come a long way and now boasts international standards, world-class racehorses and state-of-the-art facilities, and we've been privileged, me, my wife Ann and my three sons to be part of this.

“The Club can be proud of the integrity of its racing and it goes without saying it is professionally run.

“All Singaporeans should be proud of the quality of its racing as it also gives employment to a lot of people. I don't think there is a better Club in the world.

“I've truly enjoyed my time here with my family in this clean, green and efficient country, and I now look forward to seeing Singapore racing flourish in the years ahead.”

Aurthor: Racing and Sports