The success of the Autumn Carnival looks to have done enough to ensure a $200 million investment to transform Sydney’s premiere racing precincts.
Royal Randwick, Rosehill Gardens and Warwick Farm will all benefit from the financial windfall which will upgrade the facilities to a world class standard.
The construction could be underway as early as this year in a move that is designed to stop the loss of Saturday race meetings to rural racecourses.
The timing of the announcement couldn’t have come at a better time for the city tracks after the massive success of the Hawkesbury stand-alone Saturday meeting last weekend.
It also comes amidst the build up to Scone’s two day carnival which has seen many people call for a spread of the idea across New South Wales regions towards the end of the Autumn Carnival.
Chief Executive of Racing New South Wales Peter V’landys however said at the current time there were no active applications from country tracks to host additional Saturday meetings and that the organisation were not developing any new plans to that effect.
“We are about to undertake a $200 million upgrade of our Sydney racetrack facilities,” V’landys said.
“There will be $174 million spent at Royal Randwick and Rosehill, and another $35 million at Warwick Farm to improve facilities and provide world-class venues for punters to enjoy at Sydney race meetings.
“The Australian Turf Club will want to get a return on the capital investment.
“If we keep taking Saturday race dates away from the ATC, how are they going to do that?”
While metropolitan Sydney may be safe for now there’s no ignoring the massive success that was the Hawkesbury meeting last Saturday.
More than 10,000 racegoers turned up despite less than ideal weather and the record number of nominations was matched with record betting turnover which at the NSW TAB nearly hit $8 million.
Similar scenes are expected at Scone across their two day carnival starting on May 14, a first stand-alone Saturday meeting for the club.
“Scone is a very progressive race club and they brought in more than $500,000 in new revenue to the racing industry through sponsorships and the like for their May 14 meeting,” V’landys said.
“Scone has enormous potential as a race club and racecourse and their two-day carnival next week should be an outstanding promotion for NSW racing.
“Hawkesbury’s Saturday meetings have been an unqualified success, they are now a permanent fixture on the racing calendar and they complement the Sydney Carnival perfectly. But we have not received any applications for additional Sydney Saturday race dates from other provincial or country clubs and it is not something Racing NSW is keen to pursue.”
He is adamant though that the current focus of Racing NSW is on the continued improvement of metropolitan meetings through better facilities for crowds and more attractive events for owners and trainers.
“We want Sydney Saturday race meetings to be the most important of the week,” he said.
“It is OK to do the occasional stand-alone meeting outside of Sydney but you can overdo it as well.”