ATC Chairman Peter McGauran says the $5b plan to relocate the racecourse at Rosehill will secure the state's racing for a century. Image: Facebook.

A coalition of racing industry heavyweights, some of whom are current Australian Turf Club (ATC) members, have united to launch the Save Rosehill campaign to protest against the ATC’s proposed plans to sell-off Sydney’s Rosehill Gardens Racecourse.

At the end last year, the ATC and the NSW government announced a $5 billion plan to relocate Rosehill Gardens Racecourse, which they claim would both free up a significant land parcel to build 25,000 new homes, as well as secure the state’s racing future long-term.

High-profile trainers including Gai Waterhouse, Chris Waller, and Anthony Cummings are among the backers of the Save Rosehill campaign. Others part of the campaign include former ATC vice chair Julia Ritchie and former ATC chair Matt McGrath.

The lobby group states it aims to “champion the rights of ATC members and ensure that no decision is made without their consent”.

“There has been a lack of transparency about how a proposal to sell off the Rosehill Racecourse has come about, and legitimate fears persist that proponents of the sale will pursue options to sell-off the land without allowing ATC members to vote on a proposal,” said high-profile thoroughbred owner Jason Abrahams on behalf of the newly formed group.

The group outlines there are seven key reasons why the Save Rosehill group opposes the sale, including that there is currently no viable proposal that would allow NSW racing to sustain the “current level of first class racing at an alternative location in Greater Western Sydney”.  

“All alternative proposals are deeply flawed, highly unlikely to ever eventuate, and will diminish the future of NSW racing which is to the detriment of all racing enthusiasts,” stated the lobby group.

Additionally, it described that selling such a core asset to the club is “not a prudent commercial decision”.

“The sale of Rosehill would compromise the club’s long-term sustainability and the ability to deliver the quality racing to its members,” the group said. 

“The club’s challenges in delivering upgrades and improvements to its racetracks and facilities stem from a funding shortfall created by the industry’s method of distribution of wagering revenue which this proposal has identified for further consideration.”

The group added the sale would also be detrimental to the local Western Sydney community.

“Besides a great racing facility, Rosehill Gardens offers a great range of exhibition spaces, conference centres, irreplaceable green space, outdoor entertainment, and concert space conveniently located with easy access parking, plus nearby a soon to be operational light rail station,” it said.

Club Management has contacted the ATC for comment.

An Upper House parliamentary inquiry has now been established to look into the deal, particularly around the unsolicited proposal process and the government’s involvement prior to the unsolicited proposal being made.

According to the Save Rosehill group, a raft of documents that the NSW government were forced to provide to parliament earlier this year showed that last year officials workshopped a series of options to secure the racecourse, including compulsory acquisition. Documents also revealed that government officials were advised that “only the ATC board” would need to approve the sell-off proposal, and not also ATC members.  

“In our view, this whole process contemplates disenfranchising ATC members and threatens the future of premier racing in Greater Western Sydney, because there is no viable alternative to Rosehill Racecourse in the foreseeable future,” Abrahams said.

The Save Rosehill group is encouraging all interested parties, especially ATC members and local residents, as well community leaders and industry stakeholders to register their support.

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