I went to bed earlier this week somewhat confused. I was having difficulty understanding the ATC’s decision to spend about $3 million on a synthetic track at Canterbury racecourse, a racecourse where the only horses trained are those in quarantine….only the odd horse, primarily from Japan..

I woke up the next morning and realised that I had a dream, a nice dream. There were lots of familiar faces in the dream, a number of fabulous horses such as my favourite Chautauqua, a number of well-known trainers and jockeys, a number of prominent racing officials and owners, just a number of people. Michelle Payne featured as did my old mate Guy Walter with his chirpy but suspecting smile.

The dream was all about Sydney becoming the thoroughbred and racing capital of the world featuring a number of its high profile, high level prizemoney races, featuring the transformed Royal Randwick, featuring a superb quarantine centre initially based at Canterbury, featuring a magnificent, state of the art Inglis thoroughbred sales complex at Warwick Farm, featuring the best horses on the planet, the best jockeys on the planet and many of the world’s greatest horsemen. The eyes of the thoroughbred and racing world would be on Sydney. This was my dream.

It was also my dream that the world of racing and racehorse ownership would capture a new market, the old breed and the new breed; people who wanted to reconnect or be part of this spectacular global industry and sport.

Why wouldn’t Sydney be the global capital of thoroughbred and horse racing ? It should be! Sydney is unquestionably the glamour city of Australia, the leading country in the southern hemisphere. Billions of dollars are wagered on horse racing in Australia, thoroughbred racing is the third most attended spectator sport in Australia, there are more than 350 registered racecourses in Australia; Australia probably pays more prizemoney than any other country in the world, probably breeds and races more horses than any other country in the world. It provides employment to more than 250,000 people, possibly 100,000 jobs and about 300,000 people have a direct interest as either owners or members of syndicates which own about 30,000 horses in training. In excess of $500 million is paid in prize money annually. The big players in the world of thoroughbred are in Australia be it the sheiks, the powerful Chinese or the clever Irish. They are all here.

The breeding of thoroughbreds and the racing of thoroughbreds in Australia is a huge industry . It follows that the major international races in the globe should be in Sydney, the new Dubai, the new Royal Ascot. Sydney should host the best horses in the world to international race meetings.

Australia and Australians have a great history and record of achievement….making things happen, making big things happen. Is it possible? I say yes, Let’s not leave it as a “nice” dream.

That was my dream and that’s how I have joined the dots as to why the ATC are spending $3 million on a training track at Canterbury. It’s about their bigger picture, the global picture, a fabulous picture.

James Mathers

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  1. Annette Oliver says:

    But for the country trainers who are have left the industry or who are training horses in their own cow paddocks because the local alleged training centres are a dangerous health hazard, spending $3m on a track for a couple of overseas trained horses explains where the priorities of racing lie and the grass roots can continue to be eroded until they no longer are an annoyance. Then Messarras wish of having European racing here will be fulfilled. Race cards of group races with 5 horse fields owned by a couple of Sheiks and a stud magnate will be the reality.

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