A sprawling Officer South site used for training horses has sold for a mammoth sum beyond $100m, after last changing hands for just $379,000 in 1994.
Bart Cummings-trained thoroughbreds previously lived at the horse stud and training facility that has lined its sellers pockets after three attempts to sell in the past decade.
Developer ISPT, which is aligned with Industry Super Australia, has reportedly bought the 78.8ha site for $100,059.05m, more than 250 days after it was relisted last November.
It had been marketed as a future employment and industrial development hub opposite Mirvac’s $1.5bn Smiths Lane estate, which is set to deliver 3600 new homes.
The Victorian Planning Authority is preparing a structure plan for the Officer South Employment Precinct, which is expected to promote housing diversity.
Real Properties managing director Joseph Catanese, who is believed to have brokered the Officer South sale, was contacted for comment.
The vendors placed the Jesmond Dene Stud and Equestrian Centre, at 425 Officer South Rd, on the market in 2011 and 2019 but it failed to sell.
The property was owned by bread manufacturer and politician Charles Gawith in the 1950s, who along with his brother George owned the successful racehorse Big Philou.
Trained by the late, great Bart Cummings, Big Philou lived at Jesmond Dene along with other thoroughbreds.
Big Philou was scandalously withdrawn from the 1969 Melbourne Cup, which he was favourite to win, just 39 minutes before the race was due to start after Cummings realised the horse was in distress.
An unknown person had slipped into Big Philou’s stable and administered a dose of the laxative Danthron. Rain Lover went on to win the Cup.
Luckily, Big Philou eventually made a full recovery and went on to win other races.
The jockey who was meant to ride him in the Cup, Roy Higgins, said if Big Philou had not been scratched, he “could have collapsed and brought half the field down” potentially causing multiple rider and horse deaths.
Years later, Cummings’ former strapper Les Lewis confessed to poisoning Big Philou and another horse, Tail, for about $10,000.
Lewis, who was dying of cancer at the time, never said who had allegedly given him the money.
Today, Jesmond Dene includes a 75m by 35m indoor equestrian centre, two stable complexes, a training track and over 30 private paddocks.
The massive deal comes amid a flurry of mega sales in Victoria.
Crypto king Ed Craven splashed about $80m on an unfinished St Georges Rd, Toorak, mansion to eclipse Victoria’s house price record in a deal finalised last week.
The state’s second most expensive residential sale — down the street at 17 St Georges Rd — is expected to go through shortly in excess of $70m.