Riding a shotgun in the royal procession at Ascot capped off a season as Peter V’landys confirmed he was not only the most powerful administrator of Australian racing in this century, but also in my time since the 1950s.
Yes, even superior to the committee of the Australian Jockey Club which benefited from media moguls, knights of the realm, landed gentry and legal giants.
Kerry Packer also threw his considerable volume as much into the halls of the AJC Randwick office as into the betting rings, but without the traction of V’landys as CEO of Racing NSW.
The 2021-22 season ends with I Am Invincible (a possible catchcry applied to V’landys) as the leading stallion and with four acceptors in one of the major events in Australia today, the Lightning Stakes in Morphettville.
During his reign, he was tasked with getting more money from the state government for racing, which was considered impossible, as well as getting the corporate bookmakers to pay their fair share at industry, as well as putting Everest on the world stage as a top run (popular opinion, if not mine).
So racing in NSW has never had such a rich boom, triggering memories of those who have done so much for the industry since my arrival, albeit perhaps more contributors than power players. The six highlighted are not listed in rank order but come to mind, along with dozens of others.
GAI WATERHOUSE: In 1996 Bob Charley, who was also a candidate for AJC Chairman, Racing NSW Chairman, ARB Chairman, punter, racetrack, trainer and publisher of two outstanding turf books, said: “Gai Waterhouse is the best thing to happen to racing since Phar Lap.
Waterhouse is even attracting interest overseas, as she recently did during her recent stay in Britain.