independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Magnier saddles up for battle with miners over stud 'threat'

Tom Magnier, the son of horse-racing magnate John (pictured), is gearing up to go to war with mining bosses who have discovered a rich coal seam just 500 metres from Coolmore's prestigious Australian stud farm.

Tom Magnier, the son of horse-racing magnate John, is gearing up to go to war with mining bosses who have discovered a rich coal seam just 500 metres from Coolmore's prestigious Australian stud farm.

Coolmore has invested millions in developing its stud in New South Wales's famous Hunter Valley where it has a 3,340-hectare farm housing 1,000 horses.

Mr Magnier has launched a campaign to stop mining in the valley because he fears pollution from coal mining could damage the family's stud.

"I'm really concerned. This farm is surrounded by coal mines and I moved out here with my family; I've got 135 people living here, with their families," Mr Magnier said.

"The thought that the coal mines can threaten our industry like this, it's gone way too far." Coolmore has created a valuable business in the southern hemisphere that has produced a series of champions including Danehill, Encosta de Lago and Fastnet Rock.

The Irish stud owners are working with their neighbours Darley to try and block the mines. "We've raised a lot of champions on this land," Mr Magnier told ABC News. "It's threatening us, it's threatening our neighbours," he added.

The decision to grant a mining licence in the area has been mired in controversy. Australia's Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is holding an inquiry into how the licence was granted by former NSW Resources Minister Ian Macdonald to a firm associated with ex-union boss John Maitland.

The former union official has denied all wrongdoing. The ICAC's inquiry is expected to review the licence and others over five months at the end of this year. Coolmore has been prepared in the past to battle hard to protect a pristine environment for its horses.

In Tipperary, Mr Magnier's Coolmore Stud and Ballydoyle Racing Stable have battled since 2002 to prevent businessman Louis Ronan from building an incinerator nearby to convert animal waste products into energy.

Legendary trainer Aidan O'Brien said he was "extremely concerned" about the plan.

"Training top-class racehorses is a delicate and precise business," he added. Mr Ronan has so far tried three times to get the project off the ground, in 2002, 2005 and 2008.

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