The newest resident trainer at the famous property at Angaston formerly known as Lindsay Park, Aaron Bain, is not intimidated by what those who came before him have achieved, writes Matt Stewart.

Aaron Bain
Aaron Bain will train out of the historic Angaston property made famous by the legendary trainer Colin Hayes. (Photo: Racing SA)

It adds to the legend when a success story starts with something quaint and humble.

Gary Portelli’s first racers literally flew. They were pigeons.

Tommy Smith drove bullock teams with his father at some place called Goolgowi and took his first tentative steps into racing folklore with a rogue horse called Bragger.

Colin Hayes became one of the greatest trainers in the Sport Of Kings but he started out as a boilermaker for the South Australian Electricity Trust.

Aaron Bain, the man who will rekindle the Barossa Valley training farm made legendary by Hayes, then his son David, then his other son Peter, then Tony McEvoy, began his journey with silkie bantams.


When Colin Hayes decreed that the future belonged to those who planned for it, he never imagined the future of Lindsay Park would be in the hands of a former teenage chicken pin-hooker who made his name in racing standardbreds.

If Bain and his entrepreneurial brain can realise his ambitions – in a relatively short time become a serious rival to Ciaron Maher and Chris Waller from a farm that carries enormous weight of history – his chicken story will become another lesson in humble beginnings.

As Waller became famous, his story of taking his prized goat to the Foxton show and then arriving in Sydney with two maxed-out credit cards, added context to the tale. He didn’t inherit a kingdom like the Hayes boys.

Nor did Maher, who worked day and night as a 17-year-old down at Winslow, ploughing neighbouring paddocks for precious pocket money.

For Bain, who grew up in Gawler, the son of a small-time trotting trainer, the chickens sowed the seed.

“I refer to myself as an entrepreneur,” the 31-year-old said. “When I was a kid, I used to raise silkie bantams. I went to the markets at the Gawler Race Club and bought my first three chooks. Then I started buying more and selling them for $5. Mum hit the roof because I kept bringing home all these chooks,” he said.

“I remember putting my first $20 in a margarine container at the top of my Tall Boy dresser. My three-year-old son sleeps in that room now.”

Just a handful of years ago, Bain was reasonably well known in harness circles but an unknown in its more hoity-toity galloping cousin.

Training gallop at Angaston
The Angaston property will usher in a new era in Australian thoroughbred racing. (Photo: Racing SA)

A string of winners in Adelaide since November last year provided the perfect platform to launch the next phase of his gallops career. Phenomenal success with his harness horses, with his creative ownership and marketing model, had shaken the trots out of their stale holding pattern.

Aaron Bain Racing and key supporter Summit Racing bought a slot in the inaugural Eureka at Menangle last May. Encipher was trained by Bain’s racing partners Emma Stewart and Clayton Tonkin but was their third-string option. Encipher won at $31, Stewart had the mare’s name tattooed on her forearm and Bain and his team had pulled off a marketing masterstroke.

He had intended to import a UFC champion from the US to pep up the event but it fell over due to the fighter’s schedule.

Ned Taylor
Ned Taylor is an integral part of Aaron Bain Racing. (Photo:

Bain’s inroads into harness racing had been steep and rapid. About 50 standardbreds would be educated at his Gawler farm before being sent to Stewart and Tonkin. Spirit Of St Louis, who wasn’t trained by Stewart/Tonkin, was a champion and is now in the US. Miss Australiana is the best young filly in the land. There have been many other Group 1 winners with leading stables.

“ABR”, the brand name for Aaron Bain Racing, races horses here and in the United States and in partnership with Summit Bloodstock & Cobbitty Farms, is poised to import a horse called Confederate, the expected next big thing in standardbred breeding circles.

It seems that ABR’s actions are matching its ambitions.

But Lindsay Park? The gallops?

Racing is littered with newbies with high hopes who crash under the weight of costs and competition.

Bain says he is honoured to be training from the most famous training farm in Australia but is not intimidated by it. He speaks of business models rather than difficult juggles. He will continue to train up to 50 pacers at Gawler “because I’ve got the people and the right business model” and envisages up to 70 horses at what is now known as Angaston Park.

He does not believe there will be an “image issue” amongst the gallops community because he also trains trotters. “They are separate businesses, same colours, one business plan, winning races and bringing the best experience for all our owners,” he said.

Colin McKenna’s famous “Jameka” colours will soon race under the banner of Bain and his training partner Ned Taylor, who had worked for Jameka’s trainer Ciaron Maher for eight years. Bain/Taylor have a handful of horses for Darren Thomas and his Seymour Bloodstock. Meat magnate Thomas is a prolific owner in SA and a longtime friend of Bain.

Bain is confident other well-known owners, including traditional Lindsay Park clients from the Barossa, will join in the resurrection of a property that had lain dormant for almost three years.

Angaston Park in South Australia
The training partnership of Aaron Bain and Ned Taylor is moving to Angaston Park in South Australia's Barossa Valley. (Photo:

“There’s a great sense of community in the Barossa,” Bain said. “I feel they’re excited that the property is up and going again and want to be part of it.”

Bain’s boldness has often played his way.

His first boss was Stefan Ahrens, a very successful Gawler businessman, who first met Bain when Bain was 17. It was Bain, the teenage chicken entrepreneur, who organised the meeting.

“He said ‘I have no idea what I’m going to do with you but I like you’,” Bain recalled.

“He asked me where I wanted to be in five years and I looked over his shoulder at his big office chair and said ‘in that chair’.

“He was shocked but just laughed.”

Before too long Bain had become a general manager in Ahrens’ silo business.

Many years later, Bain wouldn’t take “no” for an answer from Wayne Mitchell, who had bought the farm after David Hayes moved to Euroa and shared the business with friend and partner Tony McEvoy.

“There’s a great sense of community in the Barossa. I feel they’re excited that the property (Angaston Park) is up and going again and want to be part of it” - Aaron Bain

“The property had been split in two; the farm side and the racing side. Funny enough, Stefan ended up buying the other property just recently. We’re now neighbours. It’s a bit eerie. The story has come full circle,” he said.

Bain is not shy about his ambitions.

He wants to be big; maybe not as big as those who trained at Angaston Park before him, but big.

“If I can do half as good as them, I’ll be happy,” he said. “But I feel we are getting the right support. It’s incredible. Two years ago, I had three racehorses on lease and now we have 50 on the books.

“I don’t do things by halves and I’m my harshest critic.

“I’ve long admired Ciaron (Maher) and Chris (Waller) and now I want to build a stable that can compete with them at the highest level.”

Bain believes it will be a matter of time before the “right horse” comes through the stable to take ARB into the big league. If it’s named Silkie Bantam, perfect.

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