Colin Sidney Hayes, thoroughbred horse trainer extraordinaire, had a simple philosophy of life and he practised it every day. ‘The future belongs to those who plan for it’ was the adage he made his own and it adorns the gates of the famous Lindsay Park Stud, nestled in the hills of Angaston in the Barossa Valley. He was born at Semaphore, South Australia, on 16th February 1924, the son of Benjamin Hayes, an engineer with the Adelaide Steamship Company, and his wife Olive (née Marten). Colin, or ‘C.S.’ as he became known to everyone in racing, was educated at Lefevre Primary School and Woodville High School. He then worked as a welder and boilermaker with the Electricty Trust of South Australia but he loved horses with a passion. He soon became a trainer, setting up stables at Semaphore, and on 9th September 1948 he married Betty Munro. They had been sweethearts attending dances at the Semaphore Palais and the story goes that their first date was on a horse.
Hayes began his racing career as an amateur jockey, held an owner/trainer licence in 1945 and became a public trainer five years later. His first win was in a hurdle race at Strathalbyn in October 1947 with a horse named ‘Surefoot’. Hayes had bought the horse for nine pounds after tossing a coin with the owner who wanted ten. ‘Surefoot’ won £2,000 in stakes and set Hayes on the road to success.
In 1956 Colin Hayes won the first of 28 South Australian training premierships and by 1965 he was ready to expand his operation away from Semaphore. He formed a syndicate of friends to buy a 400-hectare property in the Barossa Valley. Lindsay Park Stud now covers 800 hectares and is revered in the world of racing as one of the finest stud and training complexes in the world and the most successful in Australian thoroughbred history. It employs over 120 people and produces more than 200 winners every season.
By the time Hayes retired in July 1990 he had amassed a staggering 5,333 winners, including thirteen consecutive Melbourne premierships in the most competitive racing cauldron in the southern hemisphere. His greatest successes were two Melbourne Cups, with ‘Beldale Ball’ in 1980 and ‘At Talaq’ in 1986. Hayes rated a New Zealand-bred gelding, ‘Dulcify’, as the best horse he ever trained. It gave him his biggest thrill when it won the 1979 Cox Plate at Moonee Valley but ten days later Hayes was reduced to tears when the horse broke down and had to be destroyed after the running of the Melbourne Cup, for which it had been a hot favourite.
Hayes was at ease with royalty and politicians but never forgot his humble beginnings. He loved nothing more than sharing a joke or a racing anecdote with the battlers of the sport. He was one of the first to bring overseas stallions to stand at stud in Australia, the most notable being ‘Without Fear’, one of the great sires in the history of Lindsay Park. He was a prominent spokesman on racing, highly respected by everyone, even those who envied his success. He was awarded the O.B.E. in 1981 and made a Member of the Order of Australia in 1994, both for services to racing. After retiring from training, he was a Deputy Chairman of the South Australian Totalizator Agency Board, maintaining his energy and drive despite failing health. He died on 21st May 1999, survived by his wife and four children, and was buried at Angaston Cemetery. He will be remembered as possibly the greatest trainer and thoroughbred breeder in the history of Australian racing. A bronze statue of him overlooks the mounting yard at Morphettville Racecourse.
His son Peter, a leading trainer in his own right, was killed in a plane crash near Mildura in 2001. His other son, David, after working for some years as a trainer in Hong Kong, returned to Lindsay Park in 2005 and has trained over 30 Group One winners.
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