Issued: Wednesday 2 October, 2013
The owners of a historic estate in Western Sydney are planning for the estate to be the scene of a new picnic race day, Minister for Tourism, Major Events and Racing, George Souris, announced today.
This follows the granting of a racing license to the owners of the famous property subject to approval by the Heritage Council and Penrith City Council.
"The picturesque Fernhill Estate, at Mulgoa, are planning to host an annual picnic racing event, with a feature race, the $25,000 Fernhill Cup, expected to attract at least 15,000 people," Mr Souris said.
"Racing NSW, Hawkesbury Race Club and the owners of these magnificent grounds have worked in collaboration to produce the proposed new race day.
"The card of picnic races, planned for Saturday November 9, will be a fantastic spectacle for racing fans and visitors alike, held in the scenic surrounds of Fernhill. It will coincide with the Emirates Stakes Day meeting at Flemington and a standard Saturday meeting at Royal Randwick."
"Patrons would enjoy a six race program, as well as prizes for the best dressed race goers, free kids activities, a wide range of local and international cuisine, live entertainment and all the action from Flemington live on the big screen."
Fernhill Estate has a rich history, with the land grant issued by Governor Macquarie to colonial magistrate William Cox in 1810. The heritage listed sandstone mansion is built from stone quarried from the property by convicts and constructed by 20 Irish stonemasons brought out under the ‘bounty system’ of immigration. Fernhill has a strong connection to the Australian racing industry, having produced the winners of the Melbourne Cup in 1877 (Chester) and 1880 (Grand Flaneur).
The 2400m racetrack had previously been maintained for private use on the 1800 acre estate located in the Mulgoa Valley. However, Fernhill’s new owners, Brenda and Simon Tripp, with the support of local MPs Tanya Davies and Stuart Ayres, approached Racing NSW and Hawkesbury Race Club with the concept of holding a country race meeting at the property.
"Sadly, Fernhill fell into the hands of the receivers in late 2010, becoming vacant for the first time in nearly 180 years, falling into a state of disrepair," Mrs Tripp, the CEO of Fernhill Estate, explained.
"Since we acquired the property in December last year, we have been busy restoring the estate to its former glory. The planned Fernhill picnic meeting is all about opening the gates to this unique property and providing western Sydney with its own race day in a true country setting."
Mr Souris announced the licence at Fernhill this morning, and was joined by Senator the Hon Marise Payne, the Member for Mulgoa, Tanya Davies, the Member for Penrith, Stuart Ayres, the Member for Londonderry, Bart Bassett, the Member for Hawkesbury, Ray Williams and the Member for Camden, Chris Paterson.
Ms Davies said the event would be a much-needed boost for the region.
"Fernhill Estate is one of Australia’s most historic properties, located at the foot of the Blue Mountains in the Mulgoa Valley. A picnic race meeting would be fantastic for the area, and would hopefully be the first of many major events to take place at Fernhill."
Mr Ayres said a picnic race day would be a unique event for the people of Western Sydney.
"It is very rare to see a picnic race day in Sydney and I am sure such an event would draw great crowds to the proposed event at Fernhill."
Racing NSW CEO, Peter V’Landys, said such a meeting would be a great opportunity for the racing industry in Sydney.
"A meeting such as this would allow local owners and trainers to have their time in the sun. Picnic races are a unique part of the racing calendar and to have such a meeting at a new location would be a great shot in the arm for the industry."