We pay homage to the visionary leaders who have shaped the Victoria Racing Club’s history. From James Blackwood, inaugural Chairman from 1871, to Neil Wilson today, the project acknowledges the contributions of administrators who’ve made their mark on Flemington Racecourse and the VRC.

Browse Victoria Racing Club's Chairman, Secretaries, and CEOs

Chairman Secretary and CEO


Although the Victoria Racing Club was formed in March 1864, it was not until December 1871 that its Committee elected its first permanent Chairman, after the Victorian government passed the Victoria Racing Club Act. James Blackwood (b.1820 – d.1881) was a Scottish-born banker and company manager, best known as the Melbourne managing partner of Frederick Dalgety, founder of the international pastoral empire. Blackwood had been a foundation VRC Committee member in 1864. On his retirement as Chairman in 1876 to visit England, Blackwood commissioned from the Geelong goldsmith Edwin Fischer the first all gold Melbourne Cup trophy—a one-off—donating it to the Club. It was presented to James Wilson, owner-trainer of that year’s winner, the filly Briseis. Blackwood remained on the Committee until the year before his death.

Scottish born John Simson (b.1823 – d.1896) came to Victoria in the 1850s to join his older brother Robert, a cousin and business partner of famed Western District pastoralist Philip Russell. John established his own pastoral station, Trawalla, near Beaufort, and became a committeeman and official judge at races at Ballarat and Geelong. He became inaugural Chairman of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club at its formation at Ballarat in 1875, continuing when the VATC became lessee of the Caulfield Racecourse. He was elected to the VRC Committee in 1876, becoming Chairman and officiating that year as judge at the Melbourne Cup. He lost his position on the Committee at the elections in 1880. In 1892 his daughter Margaret married L.K.S. Mackinnon, who served as VRC Chairman from 1916 to 1935.

A dynamic, controversial figure in the foundation years of the racing in Victoria, Frederick Charles Standish (b.1824 – d.1883) is validly credited with concept of the Melbourne Cup—first run in 1861—when he was a committee member of the Victoria Turf Club. He became a foundation member when the Victoria Racing Club was formed in 1864 and he served as Chairman from 1879 until his death. Born into a wealthy family in England, commissioned as an officer in Royal Artillery, he became a heavy gambler and, after substantial losses, decided to leave England for Australia in 1852. He became assistant commissioner of the goldfields at Bendigo and, from 1858 to 1880, Victoria’s Chief Commissioner of Police. His reputation suffered from official criticism of his management of the pursuit of the Kelly gang of bushrangers. He is remembered more generously at Flemington with the annual Standish Handicap, inaugurated as the Standish Plate in 1884.

Charles Brown Fisher (b.1818 – d.1908), pastoral investor and thoroughbred breeder, was a VRC Committee member from 1867 and Chairman for 12 years. London-born, part of a pioneering South Australian family and a good horseman, Charles moved to Melbourne in 1865, taking over his brother Hurtle Fisher’s Maribyrnong Stud near Flemington, making it a showpiece through the 1870s. He progressively acquired vast pastoral properties around Australia, but financial reverses brought him to bankruptcy by 1895 and he retired from the VRC Committee. The Club honoured him by creating the C.B. Fisher Plate that year as the feature long-distance race on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival, run under this name through to 1978.

As his name suggests, Septimus Miller (b.1850 – d.1925) was a seventh child, his father the Melbourne financier and politician, Henry ‘Money’ Miller. Septimus was a VRC Committee member for more than forty years from 1883 until the year of his death. With his brother Albert he raced good horses, notably the champion steeplechaser, Redleap, trained at their Mill Park stables north of Melbourne. As VRC Chairman for ten years he helped steer the Club out of Victoria’s economic depression of the 1890s. In 1919 the VRC established the Cantala Stakes in his honour: “Cantala” was his towered mansion and estate on six hectares on Dandenong Road, Caulfield. The race evolved into the modern-day VRC Champions Mile.

Alexander McCracken (b.1856 – d.1915), son of a wealthy Melbourne brewer, Robert McCracken, is an honoured name in the history of both Australian thoroughbred racing and Australian Rules football. Like his father before him, he was president of the Essendon Football Club, and he became the first president of the Victorian Football League (from 1897 until his death) after its break from the Victorian Football Association. He also played a prominent role in a wide variety of local sports in the Essendon district, was a founder of Oaklands Hunt Club, and served as President of the Royal Agricultural Society. He was first elected to the VRC Committee in 1897. McCracken was VRC Chairman for only one year but continued as Vice Chairman for most of R.G. Casey’s term and he acted as Chairman during Casey’s several absences overseas.

Richard Gardiner Casey (b.1846 – d.1919) has often been confused by later generations with his son Richard Gavin Gardiner Casey, Baron Casey (1890–1970), politician and Australia’s Governor-General from 1965 to 1969. Casey senior was born in Hobart and worked as a practical station manager and pastoralist in New South Wales and Queensland, entering into partnership with Donald Wallace, the famed owner of Melbourne Cup winners Mentor and Carbine. After financial setbacks, he found prosperity in the 1890s through goldfield investments at Coolgardie and later at Mount Morgan. He was elected to the VRC Committee in 1903, becoming Chairman in 1907 and he guided the Club through challenging times in the first two years of the First World War.  

L.K.S. Mackinnon (b.1861 – d.1935) has the distinction of being the longest-serving Chairman of the VRC, holding the position from 1916 until his death 19 years later. Born in Scotland, coming to Melbourne in 1884, Mackinnon became a prominent solicitor and company director. He was widely referred to as ‘L.K.S.’ to distinguish him from his second cousin (Sir Lauchlan Mackinnon), former owner of the Melbourne daily Argus. After the end of wartime constraints, Flemington flourished under Mackinnon’s dominating leadership. With Henry Byron Moore he oversaw the transformation of the racecourse in 1924 when the Members’ Enclosure, Birdcage and Mounting Yard were repositioned from their traditional place at the Elms near the river side. He guided the Club through the tough depression years of the early 1930s. In 1931 Flemington opened its first on-course totalizator system. Strengthening the role of the VRC as the state’s ‘principal club’ Mackinnon oversaw the creation of five district racing associations in Victoria, a lasting reform, and the effective end of privately owned racecourses in the State.

Henry Alan Currie (b.1868 – d.1942), a son of pioneering Western District pastoralist John Lang Currie senior, became a qualified civil engineer. At the age of 30, after the death of his father, he took over and extended parts of the family’s extensive sheep properties, raced horses with success, and established a thoroughbred stud. His wife, Muriel, was a niece of former VRC Chairman, Septimus Miller. Alan Currie became Chairman of the Victoria Amateur Turf Club at Caulfield from 1910 before resigning in 1914 to join the VRC Committee. After the outbreak of the First World War, he enlisted in the British Army, serving as an officer in France and Belgium with the Royal Field Artillery and in 1918 was awarded the Military Cross for bravery. From 1920 he was VRC Vice Chairman, becoming Chairman in 1935. He was a member of State parliament (MLC) from 1928 to 1940 and was knighted in 1937. His advocacy to the Commonwealth Government helped ensure racing continued, albeit under restrictions, during the Second World War.    

Richard Turnbull (b.1875 – d.1951) was a Victorian pastoralist with extensive interests in Central Western Queensland. He served as a committee member of the Victoria Racing Club for more than a quarter of a century from 1925, was Vice Chairman from 1938, Acting Chairman in 1939, and Chairman from 1942 until the year of his death. The period of Turnbull’s chairmanship, covering war and post-war, was one of the most challenging in the VRC’s history. At a personal level, Turnbull had two racing triumphs, with his filly East End winning the 1942 VRC Oaks and Sirius winning the 1944 Melbourne Cup. Privately he dealt with tragedy, with the death of his two sons, William and John, killed on active service overseas. In the post-war years at Flemington, shortages of money and materials meant deferring essential maintenance and improvements, even while race day attendances boomed. The VRC renamed its October Melbourne Stakes in his honour in 1948. The Turnbull Stakes was elevated to Group 1 status in 2006.

Sir Thomas Chester Manifold (b.1897 — d.1979), grazier, thoroughbred breeder and racing administrator, Chairman of the Victoria Racing Club 1951–62, committee member for 35 years from 1937 to 1972, Vice Chairman 1942–51 and again 1962–65, was an inaugural inductee into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame and was one of the most significant personalities in the history of the VRC. Son of James Chester Manifold—a member of Australia’s first parliament in 1901—Chester was originally elected to the Committee six years after the death of his uncle, Edward Manifold, who had been a committeeman since 1897. He served as an officer in both the First and the Second World War, in France and New Guinea respectively. He was a member of the Victorian Parliament 1929–33, briefly a minister. While VRC Vice Chairman he frequently deputed for the Chairman, Richard Turnbull. He was knighted in 1953. He became inaugural Chairman of Victoria’s TAB 1961– 68, having been instrumental in its formation. In the 1930s he had re-established his father’s Talindert Stud, Camperdown, breeding and racing many fine racehorses, notably the champion international steeplechaser, Crisp.

Sir Ross Grey-Smith (b.1901 – d.1973), solicitor and racing administrator, first made his mark as an amateur sportsman: his interests included rowing, golf, tennis, shooting, aviation and. in particular riding, joining the committee of the Oaklands Hunt Club. He raced steeplechasers in part ownership with his wife Betty and her brother James (Jim) Fairbairn. In 1935 Ross Grey-Smith (he hyphenated his name around this time) joined the committee of Moonee Valley Racing Club before being elected to the VRC Committee three years later. On active service as an officer with the RAAF during the Second World War, he remained a nominal member of the VRC Committee, resuming an active role after 1945. In his seven years as Chairman, he was intent on improving attendances, chaired a promotional committee to publicise the 1960 ‘Centenary Cup’, and facilitated the sponsorship of racing. He was knighted in 1966 and remained on the Committee until soon before his death.

Sir Alexander (Alec) Reid Creswick (b.1912 – d.1983) was a member of the VRC Committee for 24 years, from 1959 until his death, serving as Chairman 1969–77. His great-great-grandfather Henry Creswick had been a foundation committee member of the Victoria Racing Club in 1864 and his grandfather, Alexander Thomson Creswick, was Master of the Melbourne Hunt Club in the 1920s. His mother, Alice Creswick, was a noted Melbourne philanthropist. Sir Alec (he was knighted in 1974) was a fine horseman himself—in his turn Master of the Melbourne Hunt Club, a leading polo player, head of the Equestrian Federation of Australia and a practical supporter of successful Australian participation in successive Olympic Games. He bred and raced many fine racehorses, including champion filly True Course.

Philip John Rupert Steele (b.1920 – d.2000), was the son of the founder of a large Melbourne furniture retailer. At the age of 21 he enlisted in the RAAF and after training in Australia and Canada was attached to the RAF in England as a Flying Officer. In May 1944, his Lancaster plane was shot down over Belgium on a bombing raid heading for Germany. He parachuted to safety, was soon captured, and for the next year was held as a Prisoner of War at various camps, chiefly Stalag Luft III, in company with Peter Armytage, a later VRC Chairman. When liberated in 1945 he was demobilised with the rank of Flight Lieutenant. Steele’s first sporting enthusiasm had been as a motor racing driver, but horse racing took over. First elected to the VRC Committee in 1958, he became Hon. Treasurer in 1971, Vice Chairman in 1973 and Chairman from 1977 to 1982, deeply involved in the planning of the 1979 Hill Grandstand. He was knighted in 1980 and retired from the Committee in 1985. 

Hilton John Francis Nicholas AM OBE (b.1925 – d.2017) was a VRC Committee member continuously from 1960 to 1993, immediately succeeding his father George (1884–1960) who had been twenty years on the Committee. George had been co-founder of pharmaceutical company Nicholas Australia Ltd. In the Second World War, Hilton Nicholas enlisted in the RAAF just after his 18th birthday. He trained as a pilot in the RAAF and flew in combat with the Royal Air Force in Britain in 1944–45, reaching the rank of Warrant Officer. He was VRC Vice Chairman 1977–82 and Chairman from 1982 to 1986, the period when the club opened full membership to women. He oversaw the first sponsorship of the Melbourne Cup which became the first million-dollar race in Australia. He was TAB Chairman from 1968 to 1984. He raced the champion mare Begonia Belle, and at Shirley Park Stud, Macedon he stood her sire, the successful imported stallion Court Sentence.

Peter Charles Tustin Armytage AM (b.1923 – d. 2010) was born in Victoria’s Western District where his father Charles was Chairman of Hamilton Racing Club for 25 years. In the Second World War, Peter Armytage joined the RAAF shortly before his 19th birthday. From 1943 he flew with the Royal Air Force in Britain, as Flying Officer, later Flight Lieutenant. As a wireless operator he flew four bombing missions to Germany. In March 1944, his Lancaster aircraft was hit by flak near the Dutch border. The crew parachuted to safety. For six weeks, with the aid of Dutch sympathisers, he resourcefully evaded capture but was apprehended and interned in a series of Prisoner of War camps, notably Stalag Luft III, until liberated in mid-1945. Post-war he took a prominent role in the Dunkeld and the Hamilton Racing Clubs and chaired the South-Western District Racing Association. When elected to the VRC Committee in 1978 he remained a powerful advocate for country racing, becoming Vice Chairman in 1982. his time as Chairman he hosted the 1988 Cup visit by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands. He retired from the Committee in 1993. The VRC runs the Flt Lt Peter Armytage Handicap in his honour annually at Anzac Day.

David Joseph Bourke CBE (b.1930 – d.2005) was a VRC Committee member continuously from 1983 to 2002, becoming Vice-Chairman in 1990. As VRC Chairman from 1991, he promoted the Melbourne Cup internationally. His personal advocacy helped ensure the participation of northern hemisphere horses and trainers in the Cup, beginning with the 1993 Melbourne Cup winner, Vintage Crop under trainer Dermot Weld, from Ireland. The Bourke family had an historic association with Pakenham Racing Club, where David first became Secretary at the age of 19. He chaired the Victorian Country Racing Council 1973–83 and remained a staunch advocate for country racing. The Provincial Plate was inaugurated at Flemington in 1956 as an opportunity for horses who competed predominantly in the country. Appropriately, it was re-named in 1999 by the VRC Committee to honour David Bourke’s valuable contribution to Victorian racing.

Andrew Patrick Ramsden (b.1934 – d.2013) served Australian racing in many roles. Crucially, he guided the Club in its transition from Principal Racing Club in Victoria after the creation of Racing Victoria Ltd in 2000. He was a member of the Victoria Racing Club Committee for 21 years from 1983, Vice Chairman 1988–90 and 1993–98, Honorary Treasurer 1991–98 and VRC Chairman from 1998 to 2003. He chaired the industry working group guiding the restructure of Victorian racing and the privatisation of the TAB, and became a Board Member of Racing Victoria Ltd. From 2004 to 2006 he was Chairman of the Australian Racing Board. Andrew Ramsden enjoyed success as part-owner of many fine racehorses, notably Paris Lane, and the 1982 and 2000 Melbourne Cup winners Gurner’s Lane and Brew. In  his honour, the VRC named its annual stayers’ race in May ‘The Andrew Ramsden’. He was awarded an Australian Sports Medal in 2000.

Rodney Milton Fitzroy AM founded the multi-disciplinary Melbourne property consultancy that bears his name in 1973. He joined the VRC Committee in 1993, becoming Vice Chairman in 1998 and Chairman in 2003. He played a major role in the planning and delivery of the 2001 Grandstand development and in 2006/2007, oversaw the complete reconstruction of the Flemington track and associated improvements including Rod’s signature project, the new Flemington Winning Post. These works enshrined Flemington’s reputation as one of the pre-eminent racecourses in the world. The 150th Melbourne Cup in 2010 became a major celebration and under his leadership the Melbourne Cup Tour evolved, taking the People’s Cup to the people. Under his chairmanship the Victoria Racing Club became an incorporated body as the VRC Ltd, with the Committee becoming the Board in 2006. Rod Fitzroy retired from the Board in 2011. A member of the Epworth Medical Foundation Board, Rod served on the Epworth Hospital Board of Management from 2009-2018, President from 2015-2018. In 2021, he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia for significant service to health care, racing, and commercial real estate.

Michael Burn came to the VRC Committee in 2003 with involvement in thoroughbred racehorse ownership and an extensive background in the finance industry, as an executive director with the Macquarie Group.  He continued as a Director of the new VRC Ltd Board upon its establishment in 2006.  During his 5½ year tenure as Chairman, beginning in June 2011, Michael Burn was credited with overseeing substantial investment in spectator facilities, with forging stronger ties with the State government and with attracting third-party funding support for infrastructure essential to the Flemington masterplan.  This included replacement of the 1924 Members’ Stand with a Club Stand: works began during his term of office.  He negotiated favourable media rights for the VRC, was instrumental in the establishment of regular Saturday afternoon free-to air racing coverage and contributed to the evolution of the racing programme, strengthening the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival.

Vice Chairman - 2011-2016
Interim Chairman - 2016-2017
Chairman - 2017-2020

Served the VRC for 18 years and created club history as the first woman ever to hold office, first as Vice Chairman and then Chairman. Committed to ensuring national and global primacy of VRC as a racing jurisdiction, growing audiences and awareness of Flemington worldwide. Worked closely with the government to reinforce VRC as an important Melbourne asset with Australia’s original major event in Melbourne Cup Week.  Led the vision, development, and delivery of The Cub Stand opened in 2018, to evolve and enhance an aspirational membership with world-class facilities. Maintained the importance of Grounds and Gardens to Flemington’s brand and customer experience. Signed Lexus as the new Principal Partner in a seamless transition from Emirates. Established partnerships with major international racing bodies to create World Horse Racing Group, a popular broad-based digital platform. Signed the world’s largest 5-year racing media rights deal for Cup Week. Guided the VRC through the first year of COVID-19, ensuring Cup Week 2020 took place, albeit without crowds. Co-founded the Equine Welfare Fund and enabled important VRC initiatives. Founded the Melbourne Cup Foundation, serving currently as Vice Chairman.


Neil Wilson has been a member of the VRC Board since December 2012, elected Honorary Treasurer in February 2017. He was invited to step into the role of Interim Chief Executive Officer in June 2017 and served as permanent Chief Executive Officer from January 2018 until November 2020 when he returned to the Board as the 22nd Chairman and becoming the first person in the history of the VRC to have filled the CEO and Chairman roles. Neil came to the VRC as a business leader and digital and technology entrepreneur. During his time as VRC CEO and Chairman, he has overseen a range of significant projects for the club including key facility updates including the new Club Stand development and ground-breaking broadcast, media, and sponsorship agreements. Neil played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic period to ensure the club continued to operate and was well-positioned to return to full operation in the future. Neil currently sits on a number of private and public technology, media, and sporting boards including the Melbourne Cup Foundation and global media business, World Horse Racing with its links to Ascot and Goodwood in the UK, Breeders’ Cup in the USA, and The Hong Kong Jockey Club. Neil has had racehorse ownership and breeding interests for more than 25 years.


Secretaries and CEOs

Irish-born Robert Cooper Bagot (b. 1828 ­– d.1881) was a civil engineer and surveyor who came to Melbourne in the gold rush era and became the Victoria Racing Club’s inaugural Secretary, from 1864 until his death. He set the foundations for the fame of Flemington, the Melbourne Cup and the VRC. A practical, down-to-earth man, in 1861 he had overseen the creation of a landscaped playing oval at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Similarly, he transformed the basic racing surfaces at Flemington, upgraded public facilities, masterminded construction of the first bluestone grandstand in 1874, and accommodated ever increasing crowds. With little interest in the sport itself, he applied himself so conscientiously to the racecourse and to the smooth functioning of race meetings that he earned the nickname ‘the Indefatigable’. The Club introduced the Bagot Plate, later the Bagot Handicap, in his honour as a feature race at its New Year’s Day meeting in 1884. Bagot was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2004.

English-born Henry Byron Moore (b.1839 – d.1925) surveyor, public servant, land agent and broker, arrived in Geelong as a boy with his parents in 1852. Multi-talented, he was the entrepreneurial Secretary of the Victoria Racing Club for an astonishing 44 years, from 1881 until the year of his death, when he was 85. Byron Moore first worked as a Victorian government surveyor and became departmental head of the Survey and Lands Department from 1874 to 1878. As a businessman he became a land agent, set up a stock exchange, and pioneered electric light and the telephone in Melbourne. Recruited to the VRC after the death of R.C. Bagot, Byron Moore proved an outstanding racing administrator and publicist, intent on enhancing Flemington as a magnificent national attraction with featured gardens, grounds and facilities. He was a skilled horticulturalist. During his long tenure the VRC built six major grandstands and introduced many innovations. Byron Moore was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame in 2010.

Arthur Vaux Kewney (b.1872 – d.1956) succeeded Henry Byron Moore in 1925 to become only the third Secretary in the Victoria Racing Club’s then eighty-year history. Born in England, coming to the Western Australian goldfields in his youth, he worked as a mining company manager and accountant before becoming Secretary of the Kalgoorlie Racing Club (1915–19) on the WA goldfields and then of the South Australian Jockey Club (1919–25), the Principal Club in the state, based at Morphettville Racecourse. At Flemington, he remained at the helm for 21 years, through the extremely challenging depression decade and then the Second World War and its aftermath, facing constant economic and practical challenges. He retired aged 74 in 1946. The A.V. Kewney Stakes was inaugurated in his honour in 1952.

Keith Alexander Morrison (b.1900 – d.1985) was Secretary of the Victoria Racing Club from 1946 to 1960, dealing with post-war challenges and overseeing innovations at Flemington such as photo finish, stewards’ films and mobile barrier stalls, and long-overdue upgrades to grandstands and facilities. Prior to appointment to the VRC, he had enjoyed a successful career in Melbourne as a barrister and he served as a Captain in the Army in Australia during the Second World War. He was a quiet administrator: his legal experience was important to the VRC as the Club campaigned for lower taxation on racegoers and for an off-course totalizator agency board, finally inaugurated the year after his retirement. An accomplished rider, in his early days he had competed at amateur race meetings in Gippsland, and on occasions when VRC Secretary he rode trackwork for Flemington trainers.

Leon Victor (Snow) Lachal CBE (b.1904 – d.1983) was Secretary of the Victoria Racing Club from 1960 to 1970. Born in Melbourne, he joined the Royal Australian Air Force in 1926 and attained the rank of Air Commodore. He served with distinction in the Southwestern Pacific during the Second World War and was awarded the CBE in 1945 for conspicuous service. After the war, he was appointed inaugural Secretary of the newly created Sydney Turf Club in 1947 which took control of Canterbury and Rosehill Racecourses, and he oversaw the successful creation of the Golden Slipper Stakes for two-year-olds. His decade at the VRC began with the ‘Centenary’ Melbourne Cup and a new emphasis on publicity, celebrity visitors to the spring carnival, and commercial sponsorship. The Club reaped benefit from the transformative introduction of Victoria’s Totalizator Agency Board. Snow Lachal won regard as an able administrator and an expert manager.

William Murray Cox (b.1921 – d.2001) was VRC Secretary from 1970 until his retirement in 1986. A forthright and effective administrator, he was only the sixth VRC Secretary since the Club’s formation in 1864. He came from a family steeped in racing for generations. His great-grandfather William Samuel (Sam) Cox founded Moonee Valley Racecourse in 1883: the Cox Plate is named in his honour. Murray’s grandfather, the second W.S. Cox, was famed as a steeplechase rider in the 19th century. Murray’s father, William Stanley (Bill) Cox, succeeded his uncle, Arthur V. Hiskens, as Secretary at Moonee Valley in 1935. Murray then followed in his father Bill’s footsteps as Moonee Valley Secretary from 1966 before moving to the VRC in March 1970. His time at Flemington saw many improvements including major changes to training tracks and facilities, the building of the Hill Grandstand, and the advent of computerisation of racing information.

Charles Rodney Johnson joined the VRC staff as an office boy in 1946, when the administration office was still in Bourke Street in the city centre. He went on to hold almost every junior and senior post in the Club during his long career, becoming in 1986 the seventh Secretary (Chief Executive Office) of the Club in its 122-year history. He was the first to rise to this position from the ranks within. His roles included Secretary to the Victorian Country Racing Council, Assistant VRC Secretary, Racing Manager and Deputy Secretary before taking the top job. He retired in June 1994, after 48 years of dedicated and professional service to the VRC and to the Victorian and Australian racing industry. It was under his guidance that the internationalisation of the Melbourne Cup truly began, when in 1993 Vintage Crop, along with the horse’s trainer and jockey, flew in from Ireland to win the race.  In 2014 Rod Johnson collaborated with journalist Rhett Kirkwood to publish a 150th anniversary history of the Club. He became a Life Member of the VRC and of the Carbine Club, Melbourne, and in 2000 was awarded an Australian Sports Medal.  

Brian John Beattie came to the Victoria Racing Club as Chief Executive Officer in 1994 after a distinguished career in retail, culminating in his role as managing director of Coles Supermarkets. A keen follower of racing, he was entrusted with the complex task of administering the separation of the VRC’s traditional functions as Principal Racing Club in the state and as the Club responsible for racing at Flemington. He fulfilled both roles with conspicuous success. At Flemington he carried responsibility for construction of ‘The Grandstand’ in 2000, its completion allowing the VRC membership to reach new levels. In mid-2000 the separation of VRC and Racing Industry roles took effect, which involved much legal and administrative work.  Brian Beattie now took on the industry responsibilities until the formal creation of Racing Victoria Ltd in December 2001. He operated as inaugural Chief Executive Officer of Racing Victoria.

With the separation of the VRC’s traditional roles as Principal Racing Club and as the club responsible for Flemington Racecourse, Dale Monteith became VRC Chief Executive Officer in mid-2000 while Brian Beattie took charge of the new body, Racing Victoria. Dale Monteith came to the job after 24 years in racing at the VATC, having been racing manager and nine years its Chief Executive, and responsible for Caulfield and Sandown Racecourses. For the next twelve years, he oversaw the Flemington masterplan works. Projects, including new VRC offices, the first ever reconstruction of the course proper in Flemington’s history and associated birdcage horse stalls and mounting yard tunnel. All works were completed to a tight schedule to ensure that Flemington would be ready for the 2007 Melbourne Cup Carnival. Notably he was integral to the Club’s transition in July 2006 to the incorporated not-for-profit entity, VRC Ltd. The Committee was replaced by a Board, with committee members becoming directors. After retirement from the VRC, he became Chairman in 2016 of the Harness Racing Board.

David Courtney’s tenure as VRC Chief Executive Officer was sadly cut short by illness and his untimely death. He came to the position after three years as CEO of Crown Casino, Melbourne, after serving as Chief Financial Officer at Crown and then head of Perth’s Burswood Casino. Born in Melbourne, he had previously been a partner in the business management firm, Ernst and Young. Welcomed at the time of his appointment as a proven chief executive with commercial acumen, and one who appreciated the rich culture and heritage of the VRC, he oversaw the 2013 Melbourne Cup Carnival and the design of the new grandstand but resigned in August 2014.

Julian Sullivan had been part of the VRC administration for more than thirty years and was Executive General Manager, Club Services, which included the successful Membership Department along with Commercial and Racing Departments when in April 2014 he was asked to take the role of Acting CEO following the sudden retirement of David Courtney because of illness.  Julian Sullivan remained in the post until mid-2015.  He had previously carried much responsibility in helping the VRC grow from 7000 to more than 30,000 members, enlisting younger members and women members and enhancing customer experience. On resignation from the VRC at the end of 2015 he filled a comparable role as CEO for Perth Racing in Western Australia.

Simon Love initially joined the VRC administration in 2011 with a background in banking, finance, strategy and business administration, as ‘Executive General Manager, Corporate, Finance and Strategic Initiatives’. His primary focus was on progressing the Club’s master plan including the realisation of the proposed Club Stand. His role included a significant investment in technology, obtaining all necessary regulatory approvals for development of the Club Stand and preparing the club financially to fund the Club Stand and other key capital expenditure projects. Simon Love was appointed VRC Chief Executive Officer in mid-2015 and served in the role until May 2017.

Interim VRC Chief Executive Officer - 2017-2018
VRC Chief Executive Officer - 2018-2020

A VRC Board Member from 2012 and Honorary Treasurer in 2017, Neil Wilson stepped into the role of Interim Chief Executive Officer in mid-2017 before being formally confirmed in the role in January 2018. He served as Chief Executive until November 2020 before resuming his Board position when elected VRC Chairman and becoming the first person in the history of the VRC to have filled the CEO and Chairman roles. 

During his time as VRC CEO and Chairman he has overseen a range of significant projects for the club including key facility updates including the new Club Stand development and ground-breaking broadcast, media, and sponsorship agreements. Neil played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic period to ensure the club continued to operate and was well-positioned to return to full operation in the future. Neil currently sits on a number of private and public technology, media and sporting boards including the Melbourne Cup Foundation and global media business, World Horse Racing which has association with Ascot and Goodwood in the UK, Breeders’ Cup in the USA and The Hong Kong Jockey Club. Neil has had racehorse ownership and breeding interests for more than 25 years.

Steve Rosich came to the VRC with more than 20 years’ experience in sports administration, including in senior executive roles at two AFL clubs that are market leaders in membership, partner engagement and growth. He commenced as CEO in November 2020, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic in Australia. With total bans and then strict limitations on public attendance at race meetings right through until late 2022, he was responsible for steering the Club though unprecedented operational and financial challenges. In his time as CEO, the Club secured a major new broadcasting, media, and sponsorship deal, extending to the end of the decade. Steve led a restructured Leadership Team at the VRC that is focused on delivering the Club’s new strategic plan to be the leader in world class racing and experiences, which has already achieved record membership numbers in consecutive seasons in 2022/23 and 2023/24.