Simon Dunderdale (second from right) pictured with Rt Hon Winston Peters and a local delegation at his stables in Malaysia.  Photo: Supplied

Globe-trotting Kiwi enjoying time in Malaysia

Joshua Smith, LOVERACING.NZ News Desk
12 June 2024

Expat Kiwi trainer Simon Dunderdale has spent the last two decades plying his trade around the world, with his latest stop being at Selangor Turf Club in Malaysia.

Dunderdale has spent the last six years in the developing racing jurisdiction, and he said he is excited about the future of racing in Malaysia, with the closure of racing in both Singapore and Macau opening up plenty of opportunities.

“I have got 58 horses in training at present, and with Singapore closing we are picking up a lot of nice owners, and there is a shipment of Macau horses about to arrive,” he said.

“They are slowly starting to drip over (from Singapore). I would imagine from the middle of next year we will be looking to buy horses from elsewhere.

“Malaysia is definitely on the move. There are already a few Singaporean trainers booked in to come, there are jockeys arriving, and it is looking promising.

“It is a great place to live, it is a safe place, and it offers a really good lifestyle.”

Dunderdale has found himself at home in Malaysia and he is enjoying plenty of success, currently leading the trainers’ premiership at Selangor Turf Club, which he extended on Sunday with three wins.

“I am in front with 26 winners this year, with the next on 23,” he said. “My team has doubled pretty quickly, but I saw it coming about six months ago so I did buy quite a few young horses from New Zealand, and there have been a few that have come from Australia too.

“I bought horses in all three ready to run sales in Australasia. I prefer tried horses, because it is a bit of a lottery buying a young one. I have had a bit of luck from those ones recently from New Zealand, which has been very good.”

One of those Kiwi success stories has been Antipodean, who Dunderdale purchased out of Regal Farm’s 2022 New Zealand Bloodstock Ready To Run Sale draft for $23,000.

“I had three winners on Sunday including Antipodean, who I bought at the (New Zealand Bloodstock) ready to run sales in 2022, he is a Derryn horse who is unbeaten in his five starts,” he said.

“He was a Class 3 horse on Sunday and he was up against the best horses here and he cleaned them up, so he is probably the best horse here. I also have a U S Navy Flag that I bought at that same sale called Military Flag and he is one of the up-and-coming three-year-olds.”

Dunderdale learned his craft in New Zealand and Australia before spreading his wings further afield, riding trackwork in Japan, England, Ireland and Germany, before training in Macau and Turkey.

“I was foreman for Mike Moroney and Tony Noonan in Australia, I worked for Roger James for three and a half years as a track rider, and also worked for Maurice Campbell, and in Australia I started off with Robbie Laing,” Dunderdale said.

“I have been in Malaysia for six years now. I did 10 years in Turkey and prior to that I was in Macau for four years in the nineties where it was at the top of its game.”

Dunderdale said he had no intention of training in Turkey, however, an opportunity presented itself and he enjoyed being the only foreign trainer in the country for a decade.

“Turkey is a great place, I was only going to go to there for a short time, but I ended up staying there for 10 years,” he said.

“There was a veterinary surgeon that I was very friendly with when I was working in Macau and he went over there. I went over to visit him, and I was offered a job, I wasn’t interested, but they just kept on hounding me and finally I went there.

“I trained a few Group winners, I didn’t get a Group One, but I had a very good mare called Tiara.”

Dunderdale said Turkey was an enjoyable but eye-opening experience.

“Racing over there is a closed shop, they breed their own horses, you can’t bring in a yearling, but you can bring in a broodmare in-foal,” he said.

“Even though the Turkish economy has crashed recently, the prizemoney is very good. The Derby is in a couple of weeks and that is worth NZ$1 million to the winner.

“There are two race meetings in Turkey every day, one during the day and one at night.

“In Turkey you only work for one owner. I worked for some pretty good owners over there and they usually gave you 30 to 40 horses.

I was the only foreign trainer there and it was challenging. It wasn’t easy with the language barrier with the jockeys, it was pretty hard to get by in the early days, but I stuck it out.”

Malaysia is home to Dunderdale for now and he said he has no intentions of leaving anytime soon.

“I have done the hard yards here,” he said. “When I first came here it was quite low, and now there is a big focus on it with Singapore and Macau closing. I would be foolish to run away right at the moment.”

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