Racing legends join fight against new coal

PITCH: Bart Cummings, above, and Gai Waterhouse, below, are backing breeders.
PITCH: Bart Cummings, above, and Gai Waterhouse, below, are backing breeders.

Racing legends Bart Cummings and Gai Waterhouse will throw their support behind the Hunter Valley Thoroughbred Breeders Association’s strategic plan to stop new coalmines in the Upper Hunter.

Racing’s Melbourne Cup king and its first lady will attend a press conference the association has called in Sydney this morning to outline the 10-point action plan it will pitch to the state government, the mining industry and the general public.

Support for the association has come from all spectrums of the racing industry with Racing NSW, Racing Victoria and the Australian Racing Board involved.

A state government subcommittee of five ministers – set up in July to devise a strategy to tackle land-use conflicts throughout NSW – has yet to set its terms of reference.

‘‘We have had constructive discussion on the matter with the state government and the coalition but we are still waiting for the strategic plan for coalmining in NSW,’’ association representative Hellen Georgopoulos said.

‘‘This [thoroughbred breeding] is the largest agricultural industry in the Hunter Valley and with all the mining and associated planning going on, we need to publicly launch our policy.

‘‘This industry is a significant contributor to the national economy and the state economy.’’

The Hunter has one of three Thoroughbred Breeding Centres of Excellence in the world, with the other two at Kentucky in the US and Newmarket in England.

Sydney trainer Peter Snowden will join Australian racing’s royalty at the media conference.

Mr Snowden is head trainer for Darley Racing, which owns Woodlands Stud at Denman.

Bart Cummings has trained 12 Melbourne Cup winners and Gai Waterhouse is the top female trainer in Australia.