Last week, the Australian Turf Club (ATC) and the NSW Government announced that they were in talks to relocate Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, in an effort to both free up a significant land parcel for housing in greater Sydney, as well as secure the state’s racing future long-term.
The proposal was brought to the Minns Government by ATC, and centres around building 25,000 homes on the current site of the racecourse in western Sydney. The NSW Government and the ATC have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) on the plan, which would be subject to the NSW Government’s unsolicited proposals process.
Under the ATC’s proposal:
- A Centre of Excellence horse training facility at Horsley Park alongside the Sydney International Equestrian Centre would be built to accommodate the relocation of 300 to 400 horses from Rosehill Gardens stables.
- Warwick Farm Racecourse would be redeveloped as a state-of-the-art racing, training, member and spectator facility.
- Redevelop Canterbury Park increasing the size and circumference of the course proper, in addition to new spectator facilities.
- Rebuild and expand the total number of stables and training infrastructure at Royal Randwick Racecourse.
- Several sites across Sydney will be earmarked and investigated for a new, world-class racecourse track and facilities.
- ATC retains and develops the Rosehill Gardens site for housing, entertainment, green space and a new school.
- Funds from the development would be invested in racing, training and member and spectator facilities at all racing, training and stabling venues.
- The NSW Government would explore the feasibility of a new metro station at Rosehill to deliver reliable public transport for the new Rosehill Gardens community.
Under the proposal, racing and training would be moved from Rosehill Garden in stages by the end of the decade.
ATC Chairman Peter McGauran said the proposal was the most significant opportunity in the history of Sydney racing.
“This future-proofs Sydney racing for a century to come,’’ Mr McGauran said.
“It will cement Sydney racing as the best, most modern and financially secure jurisdiction anywhere in the world.’’
A win-win scenario
Last year NSW recorded fewer overall housing construction completions than Victoria and Queensland – despite NSW’s higher population – producing about six homes for every 1000 people each year, compared to eight in Victoria and nine in Queensland. Sydney unit rents also increased by 24 per cent over the year to the end of September 2023, along with house rents lifting by 11 per cent.
With housing affordability and availability in Sydney at its lowest levels in decades, Premier Chris Minns suggested the proposal was a win-win for all parties.
“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The ATC sees this as a chance to secure the future of racing in NSW.
“The government sees this as an opportunity to put its money where its mouth is and build more housing, close to transport links, with plenty of green space for new families.
“This is exactly the type of proposal my government has been talking about over the last six months.
“The fact is we have a housing crisis – we aren’t building enough homes. The more supply we have, the more we can drive down cost of living pressures, whether it’s for renters or those wanting to buy their own home.”
McGauran said all stakeholders in the state’s racing industry would benefit from the proposal.
“All of the NSW racing industry from the trainers, jockeys, stablehands, staff, to our members and all racegoers will reap the benefits.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure racing, along with the ATC contributing to the community and economy in helping to ease the housing shortage in Sydney.”
Not everyone is happy with the proposal with racing giant Gai Waterhouse telling the RSN Breakfast radio program that it was “the saddest decision they’ve ever made.”
“The demographic of the people that go to Rosehill will not go to Randwick or Warwick Farm. Those punters and those racegoers go there. So you’ve lost them for life. You’ve lost your racecourse…This would be a travesty and a great shame.”
McGauran told RSN Breakfast that the move was necessary for racing to evolve and secure its future, through “hard decisions”.
“We believe we can leapfrog 50 years over the course of the next decade as we reconstruct metropolitan racing.”
The proposal for the Rosehill Gardens site comes two months after the ATC lodged plans with NSW Planning for a new $94m extension of Royal Randwick Racecourse, which would see the ATC build a seven-storey mixed-use hotel development trackside at the ATC’s most renowned racecourse.