Australian Turf Club chief executive Darren Pearce is committed to working with Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm to help maintain the viability of the embattled operation’s racing business.
A report in News Limited publications on Thursday revealed Sydney and Melbourne race clubs had held back hundreds of thousands of dollars in prizemoney won by Patinack Farm horses to offset the operation’s racing debts.
Pearce confirmed the ATC had struck a deal with Patinack Farm whereby prizemoney won by their runners would be used to counterbalance monies owed to the club.
“We’ve agreed to an offset arrangement with them to offset prizemoney against some debt,” Pearce said.
“The debt was cleared for a period of time but obviously they’ve got ongoing training and sponsorship commitments and they need to keep winning prizemoney for that arrangement to work.”
News Limited reported that at one stage Patinack Farm owed the ATC almost $190,000.
Pearce would not confirm if that figure was correct and said such details were confidential, however he did confirm it was “a substantial amount of money for us to take the offset action, but we’ve done that and we’re moving forward”.
Patinack Farm’s Sydney operation is based at Randwick under head trainer John Thompson.
Thompson produced exciting filly Nechita for a Group One win at Flemington during the spring carnival and when questioned about his boss Tinkler, Thompson became visibly emotional.
Thompson later revealed on Sydney radio that the stables’ horses had been forced to go without feed due to the operation’s inability to pay for it.
He also confirmed Patinack had been given its marching orders from a private training facility at Hawkesbury because of rental arrears.
Only last month they offloaded over 300 of their horses at a reduction sale at the Gold Coast.
Tinkler has been under heavy media scrutiny in recent months as his once burgeoning empire shows signs of cracking.
He has an almost 20 per cent stake in Whitehaven Coal whose share price has more than halved in the past six months.
Pearce is keen to see Patinack Farm remain a viable racing operation and says their sponsorship support and runner numbers are vital cogs in Sydney racing.
“We’re hoping they can turn the corner because it’s good for racing if they can, but with all of the press recently we’ve got to keep a very close watching brief on how they’re travelling,” he said.