By Ray Hickson
A week after his former boss Guy Walter was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame, John Bateman has announced he’s packing up his Goulburn stable to head to warmer surrounds on the Sunshine Coast.
While he's retiring from training he’s certainly not going to be lost to the racing industry.
Bateman came to Goulburn as Walter’s foreman shortly after the EI outbreak of 2007 had eased and took out his own license in 2014 when Walter passed away suddenly.
The 64-year-old trainer said he has to jump out a couple of young horses on Tuesday morning (May 18) then he’ll ship them off to new trainers and prepare to take up residence in Queensland in early June.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s sunk in now that it’s all over and that’s what’s going to happen,’’ Bateman said.
“My wife has been saying I should take a backward step and not work seven days a week any more.
“We went up earlier this year and had a look around and decided we liked it.”
Six-year-old gelding Greenspan was Bateman’s last runner, he ran sixth at Kembla Grange last Saturday and will now be trained by Kerry Parker.
He said since Christmas he’s been slowly reducing his numbers in anticipation of a move and only told Jamie Walter, of Proven Thoroughbreds, of his decision as he was the trainer’s largest client.
Proven provided Bateman with his first winner in his own name when Destined To Win won at Bathurst in August 2014.
“I knew that I wasn’t going to do another winter here, I didn’t bother saying anything,’’ Bateman said.
“I told Jamie so he didn’t organise to have a lot of horses here and just knocked back others. It’s just a change of lifestyle.
“I’ll still do a little bit with horses but not as a trainer. I’ll look to get a job in a stable."
He said he's spoken with trainers including David Vandyke, who left Sydney a few years ago to train on the Sunshine Coast, about some work in the stable but hasn't finalised anything as yet.
The induction of Guy Walter into the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame, in Adelaide last Friday, was a proud moment for Bateman who said he cherishes his experience with the popular horseman.
“I had breakfast with Wendy (Walter) last week and she told me,’’ he said.
“It was too late for me to make arrangements to go over because I had horses racing on the Saturday and had a bit to do.
“It was probably a bit overdue for him, he’d have been sitting up there having a bit of a chuckle.”
The Goulburn satellite stable was a huge success and afforded Bateman the chance to prepare some of Walter’s Group 1 stars before they returned to Warwick Farm where Walter put the finishing touches on them to race.
As most of you are aware by now, I have made the difficult decision to retire from training. On the bright side, I am swapping Goulburn winters for the beautiful Sunshine Coast. Would like to thank everyone who has supported me throughout my career in particular @ProvenTbreds
— John Bateman Racing (@BatemanRacing) May 17, 2021
Horses like Appearance, Doctor Doom, Streama – all Group 1 winners - and Toydini come to mind quickly.
“I went down to do pre-training and within six to eight months we had 40 in work and within 12 months we had 50,’’ he said.
“I went from being a strapper in Sydney to a foreman down here with more horses than Guy.
“We’ve had some good times. A lot of Guy’s good horses were pre-trained here and we got them right up ready to start before they went back to Sydney.
“Appearance was one of them, I got a bit of delight out of Toydini winning a couple of Group races after we gelded him. I had him here and I said to Guy ‘we have to geld him because he works too good not to be winning good races’.
“When Guy passed we still had a fair few horses left over, after Wendy gave it away, and I had to take out a license to look after the horses that were here.”
On a personal success level, Bateman regards winning the 2016 Country Championships Qualifier on his home track with Lofty’s Menu as a highlight.