Week in Rowe-view

Racing NSW working to develop Cessnock site

Stabling in the Sydney metropolitan area is at capacity, as trainers attempting to expand their businesses and those wanting to take up the challenge of racing in Australia’s biggest city on a regular basis have nowhere to house their horses.

Matthew Dunn closed his Sydney stable recently, suggesting it was unviable to maintain a presence in the Harbour City with only 24 boxes and the Australian Turf Club was unable to grant him any more. Dunn and his wife Keira have returned to Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales, where they have maintained a large stable throughout their metropolitan experiment.

Racing NSW’s answer to the lack of boxes in Sydney appears to be buying land and property within close proximity to the city, with the regulator last week signing a deal to buy Lynton, six kilometres from Goulburn and 90 minutes south of Warwick Farm.

Graeme Hinton, Racing NSW’s chief operating officer, also told me that Cessnock, the decommissioned racecourse located two hours north of Randwick, was having plans drawn up for 300 boxes to be built on site.

“We are working with the council at the moment to masterplan that, because it’s very much a greenfield space,” Hinton said. 

“We’ve got government funding (of $11.5 million) to build 300 stables and we’ve just got to work through that with the council. 

“There’s a lot of bushfire risk and zoning matters and all the bits of pieces you need to do to construct something of that size.” 

Racing NSW also owns Bong Bong Farm in the NSW Southern Highlands, a property it purchased last year for $22.5 million, and it intends to lease it out, as it will with Lynton.


First Light Racing’s Tim Wilson brought another industry player in John Guscic to light, after Royal Entrance a Snitzel colt scored on debut at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

Guscic, who runs Webjet, had a share in First Light’s VRC Oaks winner Aristia (Lonhro) and that experience sparked a large-scale investment in 25 broodmares and as a shareholder in the China Horse Club-Newgate colts partnership, which owns two-year-olds Royal Entrance, Empire Of Japan and Sovereign Fund, among others.

Guscic also bred Gold Bullion (Savabeel), a colt in the 2022-23 group of two-year-olds selected by Newgate’s Henry Field and partners, and Newhaven Park will offer a Super Seth (Dundeel) half-sister at the Inglis Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale on his behalf.

Their dam Gold Rush (So You Think), who has an Ocean Park (Thorn Park) filly at foot, did not get in foal this season. 

“She missed this year and she is actually going to go to Extreme Choice on a northern hemisphere cover, as part of that initiative they are doing at Newgate,” Wilson told us. 

“They are a terrifically innovative operation and John loves anything that’s new and exciting. He loves the idea of getting Gold Rush in foal to northern hemisphere time to Extreme Choice.”

Racing and breeding under the Aristia Park Bloodstock banner, Guscic has so far been selling yearlings through Newgate Farm, Newhaven and Rosemont Stud.

“Aristia Park Bloodstock is a young business with great aspirations and, at this stage, we’re trying to form relationships with those who do it best and learn as much as we can off them. I would probably encourage John to sell under his own brand in 2024, but a bit like The Chase with China Horse Club and Yulong on a smaller scale, we are learning as we go about the breeding side of the business,” Wilson said. 

“There is no ego – we don’t just want to have the name out there. We want to make the best decisions commercially, whether it’s 2024 or it’s still a few years away, the relationships we’ve got with Mitho (Anthony Mithen) at Rosemont and John Kelly at Newhaven, they’ve done a great job prepping and selling our horses already.”

Encouragingly for trainers, and the industry as a whole, Guscic loves racing horses, not just breeding them. 

“John likes to stay in what he sells as well. Robbie Griffiths has bought a couple  and we bred a full-brother to Express Pass that Nick Ryan bought, so John happily stayed in that one,” Wilson said. 

“He is certainly feeling his way with Ashleigh (Dowley) from our team primarily guiding him, but John’s primary motivation is to have fun – everyone wants to make money, don’t get me wrong, and meet good people and if it makes a profit, then that’s a bonus.”



The Gimcrack Stakes (Gr 3, 1000m) winner Platinum Jubilee (Zoustar) and Breeders’ Plate (Gr 3, 1000m) winner Empire Of Japan (Snitzel) will clash at Randwick tomorrow and the pair take the highest-rated juvenile performances recorded so far this season into the Drinkwise Plate (1100m).

According to Paul Daily’s Ratings2Win, the Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott-trained recorded a WQR (Wholistic Quality Rating) of 97.5 in her debut victory when surging from secondlast to take out the Group 3 while Empire Of Japan recorded 96.2 in his win, also coming from last.

Horses develop quickly, so it will be interesting to see whether the two “ladder leaders” have progressed from their season-opening performances, or their generation rivals have skipped past them and whether they can retain their measuring stick status.

The Novelist (Written By), who runs in the BJ McLachlan Stakes (Gr 3, 1200m) at Eagle Farm tomorrow in his bid to qualify for the Magic Millions 2YO Classic (RL, 1200m), for instance, could elevate his rating significantly on what he achieved at Kembla Grange, while Miss Coota (Spirit Of Boom), Queensland’s early pacesetter, returns in the same race.

Ratings2Win – Top ten juveniles this season

Horse Track Date Finish Rating Race tempo

Platinum Jubilee (Zoustar) filly Randwick 1/10 1st 97.5 genuine

Empire Of Japan (Snitzel) colt Randwick 1/10 1st 96.2 genuine

Krakarib (Ribchester) colt Flemington 1/11 1st 95.8 average

Saltaire (Star Turn) filly Randwick 10/12 1st 94.4           above average

Perfect Proposal (Russian Revolution) filly Randwick 1/10 2nd 94.4 genuine

Malaboom (Spirit Of Boom) filly Eagle Farm 10/12 1st 94.3 below average

Facile (Trapeze Artist) filly Randwick 10/12 2nd 94           above average

Little Brose (Per Incanto) colt Caulfield 26/11 1st 93.9 below average

Empress Of Wonder (Choisir) filly Eagle Farm 10/12 1st 93.6 below average

Zulfiqar (Exceed And Excel) colt Flemington 1/10 1st 93.3 moderate

*ratings do not include age improvement 

*where horses have had more than one start, highest rating is used

*Ratings courtesy of Ratings2Win



This is the last Rowe-View until the New Year. Having a column run for more than a year, and that people tell me they read it, comes as a surprise to me, but while they do, I’ll keep piecing it together every week thanks to the interesting stories industry participants have to tell.

I trust that ANZ’s loyal readers have a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year and I look forward to catching up with many of you at the sales, the races or somewhere in between.