UPPER Hunter Shire Council mayor Maurice Collison has described the decision of horse breeding and racing operation Aquis Farm to move from Murrurundi to Mudgee as "sad news".
Wholly owned by the Hong-Kong based Fung family, Aquis Farm has operations in Queensland, Victoria and took over management of the historic Emirates Park in Murrurundi in 2017.
It will move its NSW-based bloodstock to Gooree Park Stud for the upcoming breeding season.
"It's sad news to see something like that, I'm not really sure on why it's happening," Cr Collison said.
"It is certainly going to be missed."
Asked the last time a stud left the nation's horse capital, Cr Collison said "I'm not sure whether one has". "We rely on the equine industry, we've got a beautiful racing club and a lot of studs round the shire, they certainly employ a lot of people and it will certainly be missed."
Cr Collison said he doubted whether clashes between breeders and mining had any impact on the decision.
"I don't think so, we've got our stance on mining in the shire and there is a stance on that so no, I don't think that would have anything to do with it, no."
An Aquis Farm spokesperson said the decision had impacted the roles of about 40 employees. "Many of these employees have already been either re-deployed or offered alternative employment in the Hunter Valley," the spokesperson said.
"Every effort is being made to assist in finding each of these employees alternative employment in the Hunter Valley."
Aquis chief executive Tony Williams said the company was "thrilled to be relocating to the historic Gooree Park Stud in Mudgee".
"Gooree has a long history with raising outstanding racehorses," Mr Williams said. "When the opportunity presented itself, we all felt it was the right move."
Gooree Park Stud manager Andrew Baddock said Aquis had in a very short amount of time "made great inroads into the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry".
"We are confident that this is the right step in the next phase of our re-introduction as a commercial entity within the industry."
The Hunter Thoroughbred Breeders Association did not respond to request for comment by deadline.
- With the Scone Advocate
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