About 15 years ago Australian billionaire Clive Palmer was part-owner of
a few moderately talented harness
The then highly successful property
developer quite enjoyed the experience
of racing a few horses, but it quickly
became a memory as he pursued the ‘big
dollar’ in Western Australia.
The WA mining boom, driven by China’s
modernization and seemingly never-ending demand for iron ore, has made Clive Palmer one of the richest men in Australia.
In the annually released BRW Rich 200,
Palmer, a proud Queenslander, was listed
as being worth $1 billion, however Palmer
says that number should be three billion.
Through his mining company, Mineralogy Pty Ltd, Palmer has the mining
rights to 1,000 square kilometres of iron
ore rich land in the famous Pilbara region
of WA .
In recent times Palmer has done
deals with Chinese steelmakers for just 10
square kms of that land for billions.
Depending on who you listen to, and
what report you believe, it has been estimated Palmer’s mining land contains a mindboggling 160 billion tonnes of iron ore.
Clive Palmer is an interesting study.
Here is a man who at the age of 29
had made so much money from property
development on the famous Gold Coast in
Queensland, he could have retired for life. Instead, he invested heavily in mining
and mining companies in WA , then sat
back and watched.
The mining boom hit the west in a big,
big way, not unlike the dot-com boom in the US. The only difference is the WA mining boom has just gotten bigger and bigger.
With iron ore prices increasing, and
the demand for the product soaring, those
in the middle of the boom need more days
in the week just to count their money.
So, what would you do if you had so
much money you literally couldn’t count it?
Well, Professor (Clive is an adjunct
professor at Deakin University) Palmer
has decided he wants to “change the face
of harness racing in Australia.”
Over the past six or so months, Palmer
has spent “about five or six million”
buying Standardbred horses from North
America, with the express aim of sending
them to Australia.
Amazingly, Palmer has bought a
great deal of these horses over the Internet, with apparently little to no advice
from anyone in the game.
Palmer rarely grants media interviews,
but he was kind enough to give
The Harness Edge a few minutes when I
tracked him down recently.
“The problem with Australia has been that we have always imported US sires, but the broodmares have been ordinary,” he noted.
“We have bought about 100 broodmares
from across the US and Canada. We
intend to lift the standard of breeding by
improving the quality of the gene pools.”
Palmer has also spent a small fortune
buying racehorses from North America,
believing he can improve the standard of
racing in this country.
The story, and Palmer’s investment, is
so big I don’t know where to start.
His 100 “or so” broodmares will need
a home, so let’s start there.
Palmer has bought and is setting up
three farms, all in Queensland.
The first two, set up under the banner
of Queensland’s Cold Mountain Stud,
are an 80 hectare property at Lowood
and a 566 hectare farm at Moore, both
situated outside Brisbane, the capital city
These will be designed to accommodate
stallions and broodmares, while a
third property at Coolam, on the famous
Queensland coast, will be built to house
In early November last year, Palmer’s
recently purchased racehorses were flown
to New Zealand (because of the Equine
Influenza problems in Australia) and went
directly into quarantine.
They included the 1:48.4 performer
Spirit Of A Shark and 1:50 pacer Fox Valley
Appeal, who were both headed to
Melbourne for the world famous Inter
Dominion series (due to start just as this
issue goes to press). Fox Valley Appeal was scratched before the event began due to a leg injury.
Astute New Zealand beach trainer
Michelle Wallis was entrusted the job of
preparing both horses, who trialed quite
well in Auckland on several occasions.
“We’re looking to buy more horses.
I’ve just bought Gold Dust Beach, who will be racing here next year. And Devilfish
and Camelot Hall, he’s gone 1:49 and won
$800,000,” Palmer said enthusiastically.
Gold Dust Beach is a six-year-old son
of Jennas Beach Boy who was bred by
Ontario trainer Chris Christoforou who
sold him mid-way through his two-yearold
season. The horse has won $660,000
during his career and won his second start
after Palmer purchased him, a 1:50.3 romp
at the Meadowlands in mid-February.
| Devilfish, a five-year-old gelding by
Cams Card Shark, has $83,000 on his card while Camelot Hall ($1,024,929) is best known for winning the 2003 Metro Final over I Am A Fool.
Palmer tells me he has bought trotting
stallions and trotting racehorses, but
is not sure where he’ll stand them yet.
“I’d like to stand at least one trotting
stallion in Victoria, but I’m not sure which
one yet, or where I’ll stand him, but we’re
buying some top class horses,” he noted.
“Maybe Yankee Boy for Victoria
and a horse called Fling It could stand in
Queensland, it’s very exciting and it’s only
going to get bigger,” he added.
When quizzed on the success of his
huge mining businesses, Palmer calmly
tells me his mining interests will earn
him “about a $1 billion a year” in coming
Now 53, Palmer has reportedly just
purchased two Boeing MD-80 jets and a
DC-9, and is a man who obviously likes to
do things his own way.
An injection of funds like this in the
Standardbred industry has never been
seen before on such a scale, at least certainly not in this country. And it doesn’t
look like it is stopping, either.
Palmer says he wants to “lift the standard of racing by bringing in good horses like Temptation (a five-year-old gelding by Dragon Again) who broke the world record this year.
“We’ll be spending more than $1.5
million just transporting the broodmares
back to Australia; that’s a big investment
but it will dramatically improve the
breeding pool here.”
Palmer comes up with name after
name of horses he has bought or plans on
There’s Honky Tonk Hanover, Top
Shelf Hanover, a three-year-old filly called
Western Trouble, The Globe (a son of
Life Sign with $772,000 earned), Artistic
(a son of Artsplace who won more than