EXCLUSIVE: New $135m facility could bring Olympics to Lockyer
Plans to build a $135 million, multi-stage world-class equine facility at the Lockyer Valley Turf Club has the potential to boost provincial racing, the local equine industry as well as bring the Olympics to town.
Currently in the business case stage, News Corp can exclusively reveal the plans to build the Lockyer Equine Precinct on the grounds of the Lockyer Valley Turf Club.
It is understood the facility would be rolled out in several stages, with a $32m racetrack upgrade structured around facilities at the Sunshine Coast earmarked for Stage 1.
The multi-use racing and equine precinct is aimed at enhancing the growth of thoroughbred racing, equine industries and related businesses in the Lockyer.
Brisbane's bid for the 2032 Olympics would be a regional push, delivering a number of sports into regional communities - such as the Lockyer Valley.
But with Brisbane's bid for the 2032 Olympics, the equine precinct would become a "legacy" project and an option to host international events including dressage, showjumping and eventing.
With an increasing number of trainers racing their horses at Gatton, Lockyer Valley Turf Club president Terry Kirkwood said the club and its "unique" land was ideal for expansion.
"We're not going to be an Eagle Farm or Doomben. We will always have that country feel and vibe because we've got the creek around us," Mr Kirkwood said.
The Lockyer Valley Equine Precinct has been in the pipelines for a couple of years, and the formation of the Lockyer Valley Equine Collaborative has brought the project to fruition.
It involves maintaining the racing facilities, while converting "dead space" in the middle of the track to a horse sports precinct, capable of holding dressage, showjumping, polocrosse and stockhorse events.
The Lockyer Valley Regional Council have contributed about $35,000 to developing the project and deputy mayor Jason Cook said a number of equine organisations had identified the need for the facility.
"If the business case stacks up, we will have a venue that can be considered for the Olympics," he said.
"The Olympic body has stated the new model of the Olympics is regional, not city centric.
"They are about having legacy facilities. This is regional, this is a legacy facility. The legacy here is it's needed, not just something we are building for the Olympics.
"If we fail with the Olympics, it's still a needed facility."
The Turf Club, Lockyer Valley Regional Council, Racing Queensland, Equestrian Queensland and the University of Queensland and the Regional Development Australia Ipswich and West Moreton have come on board for the project.
Each collaborative organisation has contributed to developing the project masterplan.
It's expected the business case study will be completed by the end of June, but it is unknown when construction would begin - if it gets the green light.
Mr Kirkwood, who has been president of the turf club for five years, said trainers were wanting to bring and train their horses in Gatton.
"We don't have to go to Brisbane, it's in our own back yard. We've got a unique piece of land," Mr Kirkwood said.
The big picture
- Realigning the course proper track, making it 25m wide
- Adding a second grass track for unofficial and official trials
- 10m all-weather poly surfaced training track
- First block of 60 on-ground stabling
- Underground eastern tunnel to access the centre of the track
- Jockey, stewards, change room facilities
- Horse walker
- Horse swimming pool
- 'Beehive' functions/operations centre
- Community Parkland
- 120 race day stables
- Centre arenas
Cr Cook said the council's contribution to the project would be the land, and that the upgrade would rely on the collaborative and the state and federal government contributions.
He said it's one of the largest projects the Lockyer Valley has seen for several years.
"It will be heavily reliant on the government saying yes," he said.
"Initially this was mainly racing, then equestrian Queensland came in and said they were chasing some facilities, then the possibility of the Olympics, it's got us to the point where we are now."
To view the full plan, click here