The Hunter Region is widely recognised for its equine industry.
Thoroughbreds – Racing Industry
With over 100 thoroughbred studs, the Hunter Valley is Australia’s largest producer, supplier and exporter of thoroughbred horses. The area is the second largest producer of thoroughbreds in the world, ranking behind the State of Kentucky in the USA. It is also one of three centres of Thoroughbred Breeding Excellence in the world, alongside Kentucky and Newmarket in the UK. The Hunter Valley produces approximately half of all thoroughbreds born in Australia each year and is responsible for over 70% in volume and 80-90% in value of Australian thoroughbred exports.
The outlook for the thoroughbred industry is positive. The Asian Racing Market is growing strongly, with the Hunter Valley recognised as a respected supplier of thoroughbred horses. Within the next 2-3 years, China is expected to legalise gambling on horse racing. This will open up a very significant market for the Thoroughbred industry. Chinese interests have started to acquire and develop horse studs in the Hunter Valley.
For the thoroughbred industry, Cessnock City has some significant advantages. The City is located midway between the Upper Hunter and Sydney with ready access to the Hunter Expressway – New England Highway and Pacific Motor Way and has ready access to the race tracks in Sydney, Newcastle and Hunter. The City has racecourse at Cessnock which is owned by the Newcastle Jockey Club, with the course hosting 13 race days a year. It is also ideal for training, with Cessnock home to both racing stables and trainers. Proximity to Newcastle Airport provides ready access for international / interstate buyers and the potential for international air freight of horses.
Other Equine Activities
The Hunter Valley is also home to other horse breeds and activities. Cessnock City has a growing equine industry which includes harness racing stables and training facilities, specialty breed studs, horse and rider training, spelling and agistment facilities, riding schools and horse-based tourism activities and support services including specialty feed production, equine transport services, farriers and specialist vets. Horse-lovers, displaced from Sydney, are relocating to Cessnock, taking advantage of small rural holdings, riding and pony clubs, access to horse events and the myriad of riding trails in the State Forests.
Opportunities within the City include:
- Potential to attract Chinese investment in development of thoroughbred studs
- Establishment of thoroughbred and harness racing stables and training facilities
- Development of agistment and spelling paddocks and facilities
- Farm / equine tourism – holiday with your horse combined with horse trails through the State Forests and National Parks
- Provision of equine services