Racing Victoria has purchased a large parcel of land in Melbourne’s north-west, a property more than three times the size of Flemington, for the potential development of a new racetrack and training centre.
The contract was signed this week, but due to confidentiality, Racing Victoria said it could not disclose the location, size or price of the purchase.
The property is within 10 minutes of Tullamarine, not far from the Living Legends property in Greenvale and the Inglis sales complex in Oaklands Junction.
What the property will be used for, however, will be up for industry debate.
Racing Victoria had an $81. 3 million industry sustainability fund set aside to invest in growth opportunities for the sport, more than enough to purchase the land.
Racing Victoria and the Melbourne Racing Club signed a memorandum of understanding last year, agreeing that the sale of Sandown would be in the best interests of the industry. That would potentially allow the MRC take a portion of the funds to build an inner track at Caulfield, while another portion would go to Racing Victoria to invest in the new development – dubbed Project X in racing circles.
Trainer Troy Corstens said the purchase would give the industry a blank canvas to create what we want.
If we’re getting rid of Sandown, we need a new city track, Corstens told The Age earlier this week.
You make it a world-class racetrack, and you attach a world-class training facility to it. There are enough good trainers out there that have brains that could come up with our own scenario.
Let’s do it, let’s do it properly and let’s get it right, so we’ve got it there for the next 100 years.
But not all trainers favour selling Sandown or investing in Melbourne’s north.
Earlier this week, group 1-winning trainer Mick Kent described the proposal to buy near Oaklands Junction as spin to seduce everyone into selling Sandown.
[It’s a] waste of money, Kent said. [It’s] just spending for the sake of spending.
Racing Victoria said there was a range of options for the land, which was being used for farming.
These future options could include, but are not limited to, a new training centre, a new racetrack, equine welfare programs, quarantine facilities, and workforce development, as well as community engagement opportunities, Racing Victoria said in a statement.
With its immediacy to Living Legends and the state’s major horse sales complex, the land provides Victorian racing with the potential to create a future world-class horse precinct within reach of the Melbourne CBD.
The purchase will be subject to a three-month due diligence process.
We have been pursuing a landbanking opportunity in the north-west region for several years now and are pleased to have now secured a significant parcel of land in this area, Racing Victoria chief executive Giles Thompson said.
This land helps future-proof our industry and delivers a valuable asset for Victorian racing.
Its size and location provide the industry with a number of potential uses which will be workshopped and planned in the years to come.
Any development of the land will only occur following a detailed feasibility and planning process involving extensive consultation with all our key industry stakeholders.
Racing Victoria said it would release a green paper in coming weeks, providing a draft road map for Victoria’s infrastructure and facilities among other things, which would spark a 12-month study and consultation process that would lead to a blueprint for the sport.