The Melbourne Racing Club (MRC), announced on Friday that a new Chairman will lead the Club into its 2018 Stella Artois Caulfield Cup Carnival, with incumbent Vice-Chairman, Mr Peter Le Grand, taking up the role from August 1.
A member of the Club since 1994, Mr Le Grand joined the Committee in 2005 before assuming Vice-Chairmanship, a role he has held since 2010. A Justice of the Peace and formerly the City of Waverley’s youngest ever Mayor, Mr Le Grand is also a member of the AFL and Melbourne Cricket Club Media Halls of Fame, having spent 33 years as a sports broadcaster in addition to holding senior management roles in the insurance industry.
Peter succeeds Mike Symons, Chairman for the past eight years, Vice-Chairman and Treasurer for periods of two years prior, and a member of the MRC Committee for a total of 15 years. Mike retires to focus on his family, business and other pursuits.
During his tenure, Mr Symons led the MRC through many significant advancements, including the merger with the Mornington Racing Club and driving the performance of MRC’s racing product, in particular by producing optimal racing surfaces, which now generate more than $1.5 billion in turnover for the Victorian racing industry. In recent years, the MRC has become the first racing club to export all of its racing content directly to international jurisdictions.
Mr Symons played an integral role in the establishment of the Victorian racing industry’s owned media asset, Racing.com, as he is passionate about the racing industry controlling its own destiny via the production and distribution of premium racing content. He was also instrumental in the revival of jumps racing in Victoria after RVL decided to discontinue jumps racing in 2009.
Mr Symons was at the helm as the Club diversified into property development and venue ownership, including the Caulfield Village development and creation of the Pegasus Leisure Group, which operates eleven venues across Greater Melbourne. Proceeds from the Pegasus Leisure Group are reinvested into enhanced MRC members’ facilities and benefits and continued prizemoney uplifts for racing’s owners and participants.
Mr Symons reflected on his time with the Club.
“The MRC is a great club, with a strong and expanding membership base and it has been a privilege to be involved for the past 15 years,” he said.
“I’m proud of the significant achievements the Committee and management teams have effected in that time, and I’d like to thank all those involved for their dedication and the tremendous outcomes we have collectively achieved.
“I’d also like to acknowledge the wise investment and strategic decisions of previous committees and Chairmen in placing the MRC in such a strong position. Our current Committee has been able to capitalise on this and I’m sure Peter and future committees will continue in a similar vein.
“I sincerely wish Peter, my fellow Committee colleagues, Josh and the staff of the Club, the very best wishes for the forthcoming Caulfield Cup Carnival and beyond.”
MRC CEO, Mr Josh Blanksby, says that the MRC has been shaped for the better by Symons’ leadership.
“The MRC is fortunate to have had someone of Mike’s experience and passion on our committee for such an impressive tenure,” Mr Blanksby said.
“Mike’s unwavering vision for the future and growth of the MRC and the Victorian Racing Industry are what have made him an exceptional leader, proponent and champion for the Club, and has established a platform for the Club to remain sustainable and successful long into the future. From a personal point of view Mike has been a wonderful mentor for me and I thank him for his unwavering support.”
“We are equally fortunate to have someone of Peter’s calibre and experience to lead the Club into its next phase.”
Mr Le Grand congratulated Mr Symons on his impressive term with the Club, while expressing his pride at assuming the Chairmanship.
“Very few people, if any, can boast the legacy with the Melbourne Racing Club that Mike Symons can,” Mr Le Grand said.
“Mike has been an outstanding Chairman. He has also been an exceptional leader within the racing industry Australia-wide. On behalf of my fellow Committee members, I’d like to express our gratitude to Mike for his leadership, friendship, vision and hard work over such a period.
“I am honoured to be chosen to be Chairman and I very much look forward to leading our great Club and working with industry colleagues to advance racing in this state.”
Nine-year Committee veteran Mr Roger Donazzan assumes the role of Vice-Chairman, joining Mr Le Grand and incumbent Treasurer Mr Matthew Cain undertaking office bearer responsibilities. Ms Patricia Faulkner continues in her role as MRC Foundation Chairman.