One of Australia’s leading horse trainers David Hayes, his family and a number of volunteers remained on alert on Wednesday night at their vast Euroa training complex as fires from the north threatened.
After spending all of Tuesday night and early Wednesday patrolling the borders of the $14 million property known as Lindsay Park, the Hayes family again prepared for a night of worry and work.
“We went on alert at midday on Wednesday and as we get into the night that red alert remains. It’s worrying, terribly worrying, but it’s a matter of hoping that we are spared,” Hayes said.
Hayes has 125 racehorses in full work and another 80 spelling in paddocks across the property.
While the racehorses are not in danger at the moment, horses being spelled after the spring carnival are being moved around the farm to hopefully avoid spot fires or worse.
The Hall of Fame trainer said for the second time in 24 hours officials had told him stable staff must leave Lindsay Park, but he said staff immediately volunteered to help save the farm and animals if fire did engulf the property in north-east Victoria.
Hayes has spent millions of dollars building Lindsay Park with state-of-the-art facilities the envy of many racing farms.
Hayes established the Euroa facility after his family sold the original Lindsay Park property at Angaston, in South Australia.
The son of legendary trainer Colin Hayes has poured millions into Lindsay Park, with many of the Lindsay Park ideas reinvented at Euroa.
Hayes found Euroa attractive because it is on the way to Sydney, which gives his large team the opportunity to race in the two main centres, Sydney and Melbourne.
Earlier Hayes said an evacuation order had been activated and staff were leaving the property.
“It’s the law, they’ve got to leave, but a few of the staff have stayed back purely as volunteers to help us watch over the livestock,” Hayes said.
“It’s a very worrying time. My wife and daughter, who are not hands-on horse people, drove around the entire property on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning looking for outbreaks. None of us have been to bed and then all of a sudden, from the north, came another real fire threat.
“We’re working as a family and as a team, but it’s been an extremely worrying time with these fires that close in so quickly,” he said.
Hayes’ property housed some of the most expensive horseflesh in Australasia. Hayes said he had 125 horses in full training, but their stabling arrangements have seen them largely away from the fire threat.
Hayes said his major concern was the horses being spelled.
“These are very, very expensive horses, but we did what most in racing would think was the unthinkable and let them all run in the one paddock as a herd. We had no choice, but they are such an amazing animal. We tied one of them to the back of a farm vehicle, and once we took off all the other horses instinctively followed. I have no doubt their instinct told them there was imminent danger and that we were there to help them overcome the threat of fires,” Hayes said.
Hayes only returned on Monday from Hong Kong, which staged its huge festival of racing last Sunday, to be confronted by the threat of bushfires. He had not at this stage transferred any of his Euroa team to his base at Flemington, he said.