There is a shake-up in a number of C-suite roles in horse racing

Horse Racing News
There is a shake-up in a number of C-suite roles in horse racing

There are some new faces this year in some of the most prominent jobs in Australian horse racing

News Insights

  • Kylie Rogers to join VRC
  • Can AFL growth convert to horse racing? 
  • Josh Blanksby steps down at MRC
  • 10 years at MRC come to an end

A new person in charge can go one of two ways. There are places that react well and some that struggle to recover from losing a huge level of experience. Horse racing could have a tricky year coming up in a couple of jurisdictions with changes at the top. 

It has been a year of huge movement already in 2024 and we are not even halfway through. In March, Adam Rytenskild had to step down from his position as MD and CEO of Tabcorp after his use of inappropriate and offensive language. Further changes have now come about this week with the resignation of the longstanding CEO of the MRC as well as a new CEO taking over at VRC.  

VRC appoints new CEO 

Ex-AFL executive general manager (customer and commercial) Kylie Rogers is the first woman to take charge of the VRC. She has earned a reputation over the years for being innovative and willing to take risks by taking a different view on things. 
 
There is no doubt that the AFL has grown well commercially in recent times but how well-received Rogers will be in a sport that is as insular and staid as horse racing is going to be a very interesting factor.  
 
There is little doubt that there needs to be some changes made within the sport and while Rogers has expressed an interest in racing, she has no experience within the industry. This is the single biggest factor for the role and the potential for success.  
 
A fresh set of eyes could be the best thing to happen to racing, taking the sport to never-seen-before levels. A woman’s touch at a time when the pressure from groups who are against the sport, especially around the Melbourne Cup, has the potential to be a calming influence.  

MRC CEO to step down 

After a decade with the Melbourne Racing Club and seven years as the CEO, Josh Blanksby will step down from the role at the end of August. That would appear to be bad timing for the MRC as they start the Spring Carnival shortly afterwards and now have to try and find a replacement at the same time that the likes of Tabcorp are still looking for theirs. 
 
Although Blanksby has been in the role for a long time, it seems an odd time to be stepping down with the MRC’s big plans for Caulfield not finished. The MRC are in a strong position in terms of finance but with such a sizable project unfinished, even with the plans in place, it is going to be a big yoke for the next CEO to put on their shoulders at the outset of their tenure.  

What’s the Australian racing roadmap now? 

This is the biggest question that is going to be on everyone’s lips. People as a general rule are not fans of change but often it is needed for further growth and improvement to come. How the industry responds to any changes is going to be crucial for the future of the sport.  
 
There will be a lot of participants in the sport who are resistant to any changes which is going to make the task a lot harder than it should be. Hopefully, nothing too radical will be in the plans for the first couple of years at least while they settle in but fresh eyes and new blood at the top could be exactly what the racing industry needs to connect with the next generation. 

Changes at the top of any business tend to be turbulent to the company even when the change seems smooth enough to those involved. How quickly Rogers settles in at VRC and the speed with which whoever takes over at MRC does the same will see how much it affects the day-to-day racing. 

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