Last Updated on 12 December 2023
The proposed relocation of Rosehill Racecourse, the home of the richest race for two-year-olds, the Golden Slipper, so that a mini-city is built, has enraged influential horse racing figures, who think the NSW government is making a big mistake.
Gai Waterhouse, recently elevated to the status of an Australian Hall of Fame Legend, described the proposed sale by the Australian Turf Club as “the saddest decision they’ve ever made,” while Rosehill trainer Richard Freedman feared the proposal could be “good for the racing industry” but “really bad” for the trainers working there.
A $5-Billion Project
Waterhouse, who together with Adrian Bott has won the Golden Slipper six times, wasn’t sure the NSW government thought the decision through and done their due diligence regarding the relocation. She also criticized authorities saying there was probably “not one racing person” that had any idea of what was happening.
The Australian Turf Club proposed a $5-billion project to build 25,000 homes on the land of the Rosehill Racecourse and that proposal is now considered by the NSW government. The project also includes a new school in the area, additional green spaces, and entertainment venues.
That means that if the NSW government accepts the proposal, all the other racecourses in Sydney would have to be upgraded, as well as a new racecourse to be built in a yet-to-be-decided area in metropolitan Sydney.
The New Racecourse Has to Be Substantially Better
However, Waterhouse is sceptical that the move will benefit the racing industry. The first lady of Australian racing said that once a track was lost, you were never going to get it back. She pointed to the sale of Maisons-Laffitte in Paris as a good example of a racecourse being sacrificed for a similar project, adding that the same thing happened “the world over.”
She also criticized the government for rushing decisions without properly thinking them through and advised decision-makers to first “take a deep breath” and then “consider the impact” on all those people who live there.
Richard Freeman, a trainer at Rosehill, shared Waterhouse’s sentiments. He said he still didn’t know how to feel about the proposal, as nothing was yet disclosed regarding the new facilities, where they would be and whether they would be of the same quality.
Freedman was concerned that if they were asked to uproot their stables, they would largely have to uproot their lives too. That’s because the trainers work at Rosehill, but their children go to schools that are nearby, saying Lee Curtis, a trainer friend of his, had young children studying around Rosehill.
The only way the move would benefit trainers, according to Freedman, was if the new facilities were substantially better than the ones at Rosehill which was “pretty hard” as Rosehill was “pretty good.” The trainer urged those in charge to not only make the new facilities a little bit better, as that would not be worth all the trouble of uprooting.