The future of Canterbury racecourse

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The Australian Turf Club has made it clear in its submission to the review of NSW thoroughbred racing legislation it wants to sell Canterbury racecourse.

There are 13 submissions to the review from all facets of the industry, including Racing NSW Country, the trainers’ and owners’ associations, breeders and bookmakers. However, it is the ATC submission that most in racing have been waiting to see.

The ATC’s 36-page report was prepared by consultants L.E.K. and has a section titled the “Disposal of Canterbury Park Racecourse and Rosehill Gardens Racecourse racing infrastructure”.

It notes that section 23 of the Australian Jockey Club and Sydney Turf Club Merger Act prohibits the sale or disposal of racecourses for 10 years.

“It is now three years since the AJC/STC merger and the ATC has demonstrated its ability to deal with its assets responsibly and strategically,” the submission says.

”Accordingly, there is no longer any need or desire on the ATC’s part for the prohibition in section 23 of the Merger Act to continue. There is no identifiable policy objective underpinning its continued application.”

It continues: “ATC directors should be in full control over the real property assets of the race club in order to exercise their directors’ duties to deal with assets in the best interests of the company, as required by the Corporations Act.”

There are six pages of the report that are marked confidential which have not been public because they are commercially sensitive.

The section on the disposal of Canterbury ends with: “ATC submits that section 23 of the Merger Act should not prevent the sale of racecourse assets if there is industry and members’ support for the sale.”

The submission, like many others, questioned Racing NSW’s roles and functions. ”ATC submits that the TR Act requires amendment to explicitly define the rules and responsibilities of RNSW and race clubs,” it states.

“This is necessary to ensure RNSW’s success in its core regulatory and integrity functions and the primacy of race clubs as sustainable independent commercial entities so they can continue to attract and retain skilled directors who are able, in fact and perception, to meet their fiduciary obligations to their clubs.”

A report on the review of the Thoroughbred Racing Act 1996 will be tabled in Parliament before July 1. The review of the Australian Jockey and Sydney Turf Clubs Merger Act 2010 has to be tabled before November 16.

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