Rosehill closure to build houses rocks industry

Scott Mcglynn
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Rosehill closure to build houses rocks industry

We could have just five years of racing left to enjoy at Rosehill if plans to build houses on the site go ahead.

News Insights

  • The sale could be worth $5b or more
  • 25,000 houses planned for the site
  • Money used to upgrade facilities elsewhere
  • Rosehill feature races to disperse to other Sydney tracks

Prime land is hard to find these days, and in a housing crisis, the plans to build on Rosehill racecourse have been made public this week after discussions that have been ongoing for the last few months. A new metro station and 25,000 houses are planned for the site.

The richest two-year-old race in the world, the Golden Slipper, will be looking for a new home if the plans to build houses on the current Rosehill track go through. While things are far from set in stone yet, as at least 50% of ATC members will need to greenlight it at their next AGM, it’s fair to say that $5b is a hard sum of money to turn down.

Rosehill to become a mini-city

For all that Rosehill is a good-sized site, the idea of putting 25,000 houses there suggests that this will be an upward rather than outward project with plenty of high-rise flats. While affordable housing is a hot topic, the money already wasted on the Metro West dwarfs it as part of a much bigger and more expensive project and high-rise flats are not desirable even for those whose needs these are meant to fill. 

Uses for the money

It is fair to say that the facilities at some of the Sydney tracks could do with a bit of love, which has to be the most important use of the money. Warwick Farm could be raised to stop the track from becoming so easily turning sodden. At the same time, Canterbury could get a switch similar to what will happen at Moonee Valley, where the finishing straight and winning line are moved to a different part of the track.

The running surface at Randwick needs work as well. All too often in recent years, the weather has produced a bias, so a relaying of the track and some extra drainage would make Randwick a much better course than it is at present. That will be needed if there is to be more workload in the future without Rosehill. 

Where will the big races go?

Randwick is the most likely course to see their big races boosted in number, but they will have to have some work there first to cope with the extra workload. In an interesting twist, it could be to Rosehill’s benefit in the short term.

If Randwick is to be upgraded before Rosehill shuts, then Rosehill will get races such as the Everest for a year or two while that work is happening. Of course, the Australian Turf Club, which owns Rosehill, will make a big step to securing their future with this considerable windfall. Even with improvements to other tracks, they will have a massive chunk in the bank, which they will argue, saves the future of the rest of their courses. 

Racing names have their say

Gai Waterhouse has been very vocal since the announcement was made. It would be a bad move for the people who already live there to lose their racecourse as they don’t want to go to Randwick.  

Chris Waller has talked about adding to his string in Victoria with Pakenham, Ballarat, and Cranbourne, who all mentioned if he has to move the bulk of his string away from Rosehill - an upheaval for the champion trainer, but he is planning ahead.

There are possible sites to move Rosehill to so that the course is rebuilt elsewhere, but it will not have the same history as the current site. Of course, money talks and in this case, $5b is a massive amount for the ATC to turn down, but it will be a sad day if the plans go through.