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Australian Turf Club in Talks to Sell Rosehill

Rosehill could cease to exist as a racing venue in five years' time.

Shinzo wins the Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse

Shinzo wins the Golden Slipper at Rosehill Gardens Racecourse

Grant Guy

Sydney's Rosehill racecourse, home to the Golden Slipper (G1) and the AU$10 million Golden Eagle, could be sold for upwards of AU$5 billion and redeveloped over the next decade in a bombshell proposal that will change the Sydney racing landscape forever. 

Talks will begin in earnest between the Minns Labor government and the Australian Turf Club to sell off the inner west racing precinct, with the repurposed land to have 25,000 homes and a new metro train station constructed on it in a bid to alleviate Sydney's chronic housing shortage and transport congestion.

If the multibillion dollar project goes ahead, Rosehill could cease to exist as a racing venue in five years' time.

The astronomical financial windfall for racing in Australia's most populous city if the ATC can strike the deal means plans are being drawn up to relocate impacted trainers, which includes the premier stable of Chris Waller, to Horsley Park about 24 kilometers west of Rosehill. 

A Centre of Excellence with 300 to 400 stables, training tracks, and associated infrastructure would be built alongside the International Equestrian Centre to accommodate the displaced trainers, if the government agrees to handover the Horsley Park site to the ATC and Racing NSW.

Tens of millions of dollars would also be spent on Warwick Farm in a major overhaul to bring its racecourse, stables, and dilapidated spectator facilities up to scratch, while a significant amount of money would also be invested on a complete rebuild of Canterbury.

Significantly, for the long-term sustainability of racing in Sydney, the ATC and Racing NSW would also look for a greenfield site to build another metropolitan racecourse to compensate for the loss of Rosehill, which has been hosting racing since 1885.

While early negotiations have taken place, it appears the plans to sell the ATC-owned Rosehill have been a well-kept secret, which led to local trainers being blindsided by the stunning Dec. 6 announcement. 

It leaves Waller, Michael, Wayne and John Hawkes, Gerald Ryan and Sterling Alexiou, Richard and Will Freedman, Lee and Cherie Curtis, and David Payne among those who will be looking for a new training home. Fewer than 300 horses are currently trained out of Rosehill.

Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys was unable to discuss the proposal, citing a confidentiality deed which was to expire late on Wednesday.

It is believed the ATC approached the government about selling Rosehill lock, stock, and barrel in an unsolicited offer after initially exploring the possibility of re-zoning a parcel of the precinct where the local bowling club and circus site is situated. 

Another Sydney racecourse, the inner city Canterbury, has long been earmarked for development, but its land value is currently sitting at about AU$500 million, a tenth of what selling off Rosehill would add to the Australian Turf Club's coffers.

In an email to members sent at about 9 pm on Wednesday night, ATC chairman Peter McGauran wrote: "It is a compelling, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform our racing industry, completely securing its future. 

"An estimated $5 billion in revenue will be returned to the ATC and the racing industry.

"These funds will ensure all our racecourses and facilities, and member and race day experiences are the very best in the world—for many decades into the future.

"Importantly, today's announcement is just a first step. Members will be fully informed and consulted throughout this historic journey."

While no decisions have been made, given the early nature of the ATC's negotiations, it is likely that the AU$5 million Golden Slipper, the world's richest race for 2-year-olds, would be conducted at Randwick.