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More about our challenge, our industry, our heritage and history, economic value and importance to the Hunter community


Our Challenge


The Hunter Valley’s historically significant thoroughbred breeding region is now under threat.


Increasing levels of mining exploration and activity are threatening the future viability of our industry, the health and future of our employees, our livestock, our communities and our environment.


Click here to download a map of current and proposed mining activity in the Hunter Valley.


Click here to download a map of proposed coal seam gas mining in NSW and other parts of Australia.


We are seriously concerned about the increasing encroachment of coal and coal seam gas mining and the cumulative impact these industries will have on our water quality, our land management, our air quality and the health of our people and our livestock.


Unchecked these factors will significantly impact on the future viability of our industry, our employees, our bloodstock, our international reputation and the future of our communities.


Governments and industry alike have a responsibility to provide a sustainable future for our region and to protect our environment for future generations.


This means finding a responsible and sustainable balance between the ever increasing and competing demands for our lands and our natural resources.


The Hunter Valley


The Hunter Valley is internationally renowned as Australia’s horse breeding capital.


It is:

  • Home to Australia’s multi-billion dollar thoroughbred breeding industry;

  • One of three International Centres of Thoroughbred Breeding Excellence (alongside Kentucky in the USA and Newmarket in the UK);

  • The largest domestic producer, supplier and exporter of premier quality thoroughbreds;

  • The second largest concentration of Thoroughbred studs in the world (second only to Kentucky USA);

  • Home to the world’s leading Thoroughbred breeders;

  • A significant regional, state and national employer – employing thousands of people directly in the region and contributing to the employment of hundreds of thousands of people across its national value chain;

  • Home to Australia’s most sophisticated and concentrated network of equine support industries – including the Scone Equine Hospital, the largest equine hospital in the Southern Hemisphere.


"The Hunter region is a powerhouse of thoroughbred breeding"

Michael Ford, Keeper of the Australian Stud Book.


The Hunter Valley is world recognised as a champion breeding ground. Hunter bred thoroughbreds dominated the 2011 world racing rankings. 33 of the 53 Australian bred horses that made the world rankings list were from the Hunter Valley. Among these eleven came from Darley, seven from Coolmore, six from Arrowfield, four from Vinery, three from Yarraman Park and two from Widden.


Three Australian horses topped their categories in the International Federation of Horse Authorities 2011 assessment – two of them Sepoy and Atlantic Jewel were bred in the Hunter Valley.


In 2011 the Hunter produced 63 per cent of the world’s top Australian racehorses ranked by the federation.


Our History & Heritage


Horse racing is part of Australia’s heritage and history. It is one of our oldest sports – dating back to 1810 when the first official thoroughbred race meeting was staged by Governor Macquarie in Hyde Park, Sydney.


Since that time Australian bred and raised stallions and broodmares have been among the finest in the world – including Pharlap, Kingston Town, Tulloch, and Makybe Diva just to name a few.


The Hunter Valley has a proud heritage spanning more than 150 years of thoroughbred breeding. This is exemplified by the Widden Stud – one of the oldest family owned studs in the world with a proud tradition of passing the art of breeding commercial thoroughbreds and champion racehorses seamlessly from father to son. Antony Thompson represents the seventh generation of breeders and hopes his son Sam will continue the family tradition.


The Hunter Valley breeds around half of all thoroughbred horses born in Australia and is internationally recognised as a major source of international Group 1 winners – the equine equivalent to Olympic Gold medal winners.


Breeding, training and racing internationally recognised thoroughbreds is a tradition that we want to continue in our prized Hunter Valley.


The Economics


In 2006 Australia’s thoroughbred breeding and racing industry’s economic contribution was assessed at:


  • $5billion in value added to the national economy with regional areas responsible for generating more than $2.2 billion);

  • over $1.1 billion in state and federal taxes;

  • investment of over $1.1 billion annually by breeders, owners and trainers;

  • exports of over $750 million to 24 countries around the world;

  • More than 4,700 thoroughbred trainers play a vital role in the preparation of more than 40,000 race horses each year;

  • More than 78,000 thoroughbred owners, 5,000 trainers and over 1,100 jockeys also play a pivotal role in the production, training and racing of Australia’s thoroughbred horses.


The reputation of the Australian-bred horse grows exponentially each year. Australia’s export markets include Ireland, Great Britain, Japan and the United States, in addition to traditional stronghold markets like New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Africa and Malaysia.


Over the past decade there has been a significant increase in the number of Australian thoroughbred horses exported to Hong Kong (an increase of 84%), Singapore (an increase of 180%) and Malaysia (an increase of 557%). In 2008/09 Australia exported 107 thoroughbred horses to South Africa.


In 2009, more Australian thoroughbred horses were exported than ever before. The export figure in 2009 stands at 2,650 with a value in excess of $100million - representing an increase of more than 50% on the 1,631 horses exported at the start of the decade.


In 2008/2009 the number of thoroughbred exports sired or bred in the Hunter Valley represented 67% of total Australian thoroughbred exports. In dollar terms the percentage of exports sourced from the Hunter Valley were significantly higher (as high as 80% or 90% of the total value of Australian thoroughbred exports) reflecting the fact that the Hunter Valley produces the majority of premium quality thoroughbred horses.


Australia is a respected and major supplier of Thoroughbred horses to Asia and is well positioned to respond to increasing interest and export opportunities from this region.


Local Communities & Jobs


The Hunter Valley breeders are an important part of the New South Wales economy and the fabric of our regional communities.


The Hunter Valley Breeders are significant employers – employing thousands of people in the region and supporting the employment of hundreds of thousands of people across the breeding and racing industry’s national value chain.


The industry is a significant contributor to the regional economy with 85 per cent of all operating expenses sent within the Hunter Valley region.


The Hunter Valley thoroughbred breeders are significant investors in thoroughbred racing stock – over 75 per cent of thoroughbred breeders are owners of racehorses wither individually or as part of syndicates.


They contribute to over $1.2 billion in direct spending in New South Wales and help support over 1200 trainers, over 300 jockeys and apprentices and over 1,000 other employees.


Not Against Mining


Our campaign in the Hunter Valley is not against all coal mining.

It is about a responsible and sustainable future for our region that balances the interests of all stakeholders and values the contribution thoroughbred breeding makes to our society.


Our campaign is about:

  • responsible whole of government actions so that our industry can invest with confidence

  • sustainable industries

  • sustainable long-term jobs

  • sustainable land management

  • protecting our environment – particularly our water supply and air quality

  • protecting the health of our people and livestock

  • preserving our local economy and the future of our region.



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