John Singleton Racing Personality
John Singleton Businessman Hugh Personality In Australian Racing
Owning thoroughbred horses represents the ultimate financial risk associated with horse racing.
It takes deep pockets and the ability to surrender the belief that just because you have been fortunate in other financial areas of life, you are not guaranteed that those good fortunes will extend to the realm of owning horses. John Singleton Racing Personality
It would seem that one logical approach would be to buy the offspring of proven winners, but history is replete with examples of stallions and mares that were remarkable champions during their racing careers, but never produced any progeny that came anywhere near in terms of racing performance.
Buy Winners In There Prime
Another possible approach would be to buy proven winners in their primes, but the uncertainty always lurks that the next race will be the last, and then there is the prohibitive amount of money involved.
Imagine the sum Black Caviar would have commanded had her owners been willing to sell her twelve races into her career.
One horse owner who has lived the experience represented by trying to forecast the abilities of gallopers is John “Singo” Singleton. John Singleton was enormously successful in business at an early age, but quickly found out that those skills were meaningless when he tried to apply them to punting.
John Singleton arose from humble origins. He fondly recalls listening to horse races on the radio with his father, a man who labored his time away in an auto parts factory during the week, and then punted his wages away on Saturday afternoons .
Despite the negative consequences he watched unfolding, young John Singleton found himself attracted by the allure of the excitement that is one of the main attractions to racing. He would later say that it was at this time that the dream of eventually becoming an owner first took hold in his mind.
He was, before becoming an owner, like his father a punting addict of sorts. He had, as the result of being ideally positioned to be in the forefront of the use of television for advertising, quite well off by the time he was but 18 years of age, but the next five years would see him squandering a great deal of that good fortune and success at the track.
Singleton Loves To Punt
So keen was John Singleton for the thrill of the punt that he was willing to wager on just about any event with an unknown outcome and there is almost no better place than Australia to find plentiful opportunities to do just that.
He was to couple his gambling affliction with one that can and often does prove worse, especially from a financial perspective, getting married and divorced at least four times.
Knowing that he needed to reign himself in, he learned to resist his urge to gamble, first reducing his size and frequency, and then giving it up completely for a time.
Then, temptation too strong to resist came in the form of jockey Athol Mulley giving Singleton some sure-fire horse buying advice. Unfortunately, even though it would seem to be sure-fire, coming from a great jockey as it did, Mulley’s advice was more miss-fire than sure, and the first batch of horses that John Singleton acquired proved to be excellent spectators of the rears of the horses they invariably trailed.
Singleton, though, was persistent if nothing else. It seemed as though he had found his savior with a horse named Castlereagh Kid. That galloper won his maiden only for the racing Fates to once again intercede against John Singleton when the horse keeled over dead within the week.
It was relatively soon thereafter that his fortunes took a turn for the positive when he was persuaded to become involved with the Magic Millions by an associate named Gerry Harvey. That investment would erase all of Singleton’s past losses and make hundreds of millions in profit.
Melbourne Cup Nearly
A fractional interest he had acquired in Rising Fear nearly resulted in a 1986 Melbourne Cup win for John Singleton when that horse narrowly missed victory when edged out in the last 200 metres by Al Talaq.
While that would have represented a setback to anyone, Singleton was poised to recover once again.
His experiences had led him to the conclusion that hiring Gai Waterhouse when she received her trainer’s credentials would be an astute maneuver proved accurate when she began to produce results, including initially 10 Group 1 victories. Still, not even the triumvirate of More Joyous, Nash Rawiller and Waterhouse was sufficient to take the Cox Plate away from So You Think.
They managed only a fifth place, which according to history would have had Singleton breaking even on the wager/prize money equation.
Singleton has long been an advocate for the merging of the numerous small race clubs and the formation of a centralized governing body for the sport. His least popular innovation, at least in some circles, would be a tax on corporate bookmakers to build up the sport of racing.
Recently, John Singleton was to engage in what some would consider a classless act when he fired Gai Waterhouse publicly during a live television broadcast. It might be said in his defense that his hand was forced due to the circumstances, but it seemed like a shabby way to treat someone who had done so much for you.
Then again, Gai’s son, Tom, was overheard to say before the All Aged Stakes that More Joyous could not win, and it is obvious that the appearance of impropriety this implied was nothing short of ghastly. Given his ties to the organization of his grandfather and the training he doubtless received as the beneficiary of Big Bill’s guidance, he surely should have paused to consider his actions.
Maybe the best advice Big Bill had to offer was to not use womens’ hair dye, bandages, or white paint to disguise More Joyous.
Then again, what would horse racing be without a goodly dose of melodrama from time to time?
Some time still remains on the clock for John “Singo” Singleton. Comparisons betwixt him and some of the earlier big-time punters are inevitable and more than a little entertaining. When the final chapter is concluded, however, boring will not be one of the adjectives used to characterize his existence.