The proposed closure and sell off of Rosehill racecourse has created plenty of queries and The Straight has gone through the key questions it has raised and, where possible, the key answers to those questions.

Why is the ATC closing Rosehill?

The Australian Turf Club has described the opportunity to close and commercialise Rosehill in a deal worth close to $5 billion as a once-in-a-100-year opportunity.

It says it will use the proceeds of this development to ‘leapfrog’ racing in Sydney by 50 years with significant upgrades to the three other metropolitan tracks, a new training facility at Horsley Park and the possibility of a new metropolitan racetrack.  

It is important to note that the development of the precinct will be down to the ATC themselves, and not the state government.

How much money does the ATC stand to make from this deal?

The headline number is $5 billion, although more precise figure puts it at $4.8 billion (what is $200 million between friends). This includes a projection of what the ATC stands to gain from developing the land on which Rosehill currently stands.

The cash or the track? A $5-billion deal too good for the ATC to ignore
A ‘once-in-a-century’ opportunity to inject nearly $5 billion of funds into the future of the racing industry proved irresistible to the Australian Turf Club, even though it means the closure of Rosehill racecourse after 150 years.

Is this a done deal?   

The NSW government and the ATC have signed a memorandum of understanding, with the details of a final deal to be fleshed out between the relevant parties over the next 12 months.

What happens to Rosehill?

The plan is for the ATC to develop the Rosehill racecourse into a suburb which features 25,000 homes, a school and a train station which will form a key part of the State government’s multi-billion Metro West project.

What happens to the other metropolitan tracks?

Canterbury Park would receive a massive upgrade, with a re-alignment of the track to increase the size and circumference, and the building of a new grandstand. Facilities at Warwick Farm would also receive a facelift. It would be developed into a world-class track and a have a full rebuild of training, stabling and spectator facilities. Randwick would receive significant upgrades in its stabling and training facilities.

How did this come about?

The ATC has been in discussion with the state government for several months with a view to utilising part of the Rosehill land to develop housing and a train station. The initial amount of housing proposed was not considered feasible enough for a return, so they returned to the table with a proposal to redevelop the entire precinct and close the track.    

When will Rosehill close to training and racing?

ATC chairman Peter McGauran has confirmed the intention is for racing and training to conclude in a five-year window, meaning it would happen by the end of 2028.

“The development of Rosehill Gardens will be in stages and the relocation of trainers will be likewise. Training and racing at Rosehill Gardens is likely to conclude in 4-5 years. It gives us time to look after the trainers already on these premises, and to begin to upgrade facilities on the other racetracks,” McGauran said.

What happens to the Rosehill trainers?

The ATC has confirmed that any deal surrounding Rosehill is contingent on moving the existing trainers successfully, with a facility at Horsley Park in Sydney’s west to be developed as part of the agreement. Rosehill currently hosts between 300-400 horses. This process is likely to happen gradually, with trainers incentivised to move their operations.

Where is Horsley Park?

Horsley Park is a suburb located some 40km west of the Sydney CBD, south of Eastern Creek about halfway between Parramatta and Penrith. The new training facility would be built alongside the Sydney International Equestrian Centre. Gai Waterhouse described it as ‘the hottest place in the world’.

Where will the new racecourse be built?

There is no detail on this as yet, with the ATC saying a metropolitan course was ‘an ambition’ and it is beginning the process of identifying possible sites.

What does the industry think of this?

There has been mixed reaction from trainers to the news, with the likes of Gai Waterhouse and John O’Shea lashing the decision to close such a historically important track, while others are happy to wait and see what the final proposal looks like.

Industry reaction to Rosehill sale plan
Key players have their say on proposed loss of Rosehill racecourse.

Racing NSW CEO Peter V’landys acknowledged that the potential deal would help future proof racing in Sydney but did say it was still subject to review.

“We have to look at it independently for what’s in the best interests of the racing industry as a whole. We have been in discussions for a few weeks and are aware of the situation,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

What happens now?

The ATC is undertaking considerable consultation with all the stakeholders in the racing industry to put forward its position on the plan.

The ATC members will have to approve the plan as well, with a majority vote (more than 50 per cent) required for the deal to progress.

Pending that decision, the ATC and the state government will continue to work on a more detailed plan to be publicly released in the latter part of 2024.