25 September 2019

SOLD! - Moruya Racecourse, "It will be an important boost for the local racing industry"

| Ian Campbell and Alex Rea
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Chris Gandy - Treasurer MJC, Scott Kennedy Racing NSW, Peter Atkinson- Chair MJC, Brian Cowden - Geberal Manager MJC. Photo: Alex Rea.

Chris Gandy – Treasurer MJC, Scott Kennedy Racing NSW, Peter Atkinson- Chair MJC, Brian Cowden – General Manager MJC. Photo: Alex Rea.

Eurobodalla Shire Councillors have voted to sell Moruya Racecourse.

The decision at yesterday’s (September 24) meeting follows 28 days for community comments and submissions to Council which resulted in support for the idea.

In his report to Council, Anthony O’Reilly, Director Corporate and Commercial Services said that “The submissions supporting the sale believe it will be an important boost for the local racing industry.”

“The MJC (Moruya Jockey Club) is enthusiastically supportive of the acquisition of the Moruya Racecourse by Racing NSW.”

Submissions from the community included:

  • 91 signed letters from members of the MJC supporting the sale
  • 119 signed letters from attendees at recent race meetings supporting the sale
  • 6 individual submissions supporting the sale
  • 4 submissions not supportive of or questioning aspects of the sale
  • Feedback received at a meeting with trainers at the racecourse which was supportive of
    the sale

“Whilst the vast majority of submissions supported the sale, some submissions did not, and others wanted to be reassured that Council was getting good value for the sale. From the racing community specifically, no submissions were received opposing the sale,” Mr O’Reilly reported.

While the sale price is known to councillors, the figure has not yet been revealed publically but is rumored to be around $1.5 million.

Cr Anthony Mayne was one of the two councillors to vote against the sale.

“I am so uncomfortable about the amount of money being put on the table. I don’t think we have realised the potential here,” he told the meeting.

“It’s not enough. Conceptually there’s a lot of upsides, on principle I won’t support it because I can’t articulate the price to the community.”

Cr Pat McGinlay was the other to vote against it also concerned about the confidentiality around the sale price.

Moruya Jockey Club. Photo: Cliff Shipton.

Moruya Jockey Club. Photo: Cliff Shipton.

Racing NSW has identified the 40-year-old Moruya track for further growth, expansion and development with continued thoroughbred racing and training as the focus in partnership with the 500 members of Moruya Jockey Club.

“A significant portion of the existing buildings and improvements at the racecourse were provided by Racing NSW grants. The purchase of the racecourse is part of their plans for further investment,” Mr O’Reilly said.

Most Councillors spoke in strong support of the idea.

Cr Lindsay Brown said Council doesn’t have the money to inject into the facility, “by having Racing NSW take ownership of it, they’ll have tenure, they’ll have surety and they’ll invest because they’ll have surety.”

Mayor Liz Innes said, “the market value of the land was assessed by a registered valuer in January 2019. I can see enormous benefits and spin-offs to our tourism industry to our horse industry and even better – the flow on to our general community.”

Cr Rob Pollock said, “this council is not in the business of running racecourses. Don’t stifle the progress, get out of the way and let the professionals and do it properly.”

Racing NSW operates within the Thoroughbred Racing Act 1996, and is the regulating body for thoroughbred racing in NSW.

Scott Kennedy from Racing NSW addressed councillors prior to the meeting, saying, “It’s a great location with link roads.”

“I have every confidence in Peter Atkinson and MJC. In 2010 at Moruya we had eight race meetings of which five were TAB meetings, now we have 13 meetings which are all TAB meetings, two of those are showcased meetings with $30,000 prize money.

“In January 2020 the Moruya Cup will be included in the Country Cups Championships.”

Peter Atkinson, Chair of Moruya Jockey Club, told Council that the Board strongly supports the purchase.

“We have a united progressive management group and there will be a smooth transition to Racing NSW, the MJC hasn’t got the funds for the upgrades needed.”

Moruya Jockey Club is expecting similar lease arrangements to that of the existing lease with Council.

Council’s General Manager, Dr Catherine Dale will now finalise the deal. The full sale price is expected to be revealed in the annual report of Racing NSW once negotiations around the purchase of a number of other NSW racetracks is finalised.

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barbara levitt9:02 am 25 Sep 19

1.5 million not enough for prime location, right by airport in Eurobodalla, when land to build a house nearly 300 thousand dollars, could have been housing for locals in need

Jeff de Jager8:29 am 25 Sep 19

I have to agree with the two councillors who raised their serious concerns that the amount of the offer is too low for such a valuable piece of real estate and that the secrecy surrounding the transfer of the asset only exacerbates that concern.
Also raising the level of suspicion raised by the secrecy were the apparent “holes” in arguments used to justify the sale.
One of these arguments put for the sale was that RacingNSW would be more likely to invest in better infrastructure at the racecourse if they owned it. The Moruya Jockey Club has a 50 year lease – would that not offer sufficient security for a continuing racing venue to justify infrastructure improvements?
Secondly, considering that just about all of RacingNSW’s revenue comes from TABCorp and some of this is passed on to the MJC, increasing the number of TAB meetings is obviously important to both organisations. The silly thing is that TAB meetings mightn’t be all that reliant on the racecourse’s facilities – perhaps overly simplifying the situation, a reasonably good track with a good number of horses and jockeys being videoed for live telecasting would be the basic ingredients. So why the necessity to “gild the lily”?
Council and RacingNSW are both owned by the people of this state who have been treated like mushrooms and not provided with enough information to see if the deal is worthwhile to them or not.

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