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June 5, 2020

For the best part of 65 years, Bob Charley AO has been a highly respected and successful figure in many parts of the Australian racing industry.

Punter with the renowned “Legal Eagles”, racehorse trainer, owner, journalist, author, and race club committee director would lead Mr Charley to some of the most senior positions in Australian racing administration.

He served as Chairman of the Australian Jockey Club, inaugural Chairman of what would later become Racing NSW, inaugural Chairman of the Australian Racing Board and in more recent years as a Royal Randwick Racecourse Trustee.

But this year Bob Charley has added a new section to his lifelong CV – COVID-19 survivor.

Mr Charley attended the Cheltenham Festival in the UK in early March but immediately upon returning home Bob felt unwell and was quickly diagnosed with coronavirus. He was soon placed in intensive care.

“The doctors spoke to my three children and prepared them for the worst and one of my daughters replied ‘you don’t know my Dad!’.”

Like many other major challenges in his professional and personal life, Mr Charley again came out a winner.

Fully recovered, the imposing and statuesque octogenarian is now looking forward to another first – the inaugural running of the Listed Bob Charley AO Stakes at Royal Randwick, a race previously run as the ‘June Stakes’.

It is an honour that Mr Charley holds very dear to his heart after helping lead Sydney racing through some of its most important moments in history.

“It is a great thrill to have such a race named after me at Royal Randwick and I had a real lump in my throat when Australian Turf Club Chairman Matt McGrath made the announcement late last year,” Mr Charley said.

“I am extremely grateful for the opportunities the AJC and now the Australian Turf Club have given me and this Club remains a huge part of my life and also all of those in my family.”

Australian Turf Club Chairman Matthew McGrath paid tribute to Mr Charley.

“Bob Charley is an icon of our Club and one of the most talented, influential and successful racing administrators of our time,” Mr McGrath said.

“Myself, previous Chairmen, Club Directors, CEOs and many others senior have been fortunate to have called on Bob’s experience, passion and knowledge of racing.

“Bob and his family will forever hold a special place in Sydney racing and our Club, and the naming of this race is a fitting tribute to his great service.”

Australian Turf Club Vice-Chair Julia Ritchie said amongst many of Bob Charley’s great leadership qualities was his encouragement of women participating in racing administration.

“Bob has been a wonderful innovator and mentor to so many people, and particularly women,” Ms Ritchie said.

Bob Charley was elected to the Australian Turf Club Board – at that time the Australian Jockey Club – in February 1984.

He was elected Chairman in 1992, and remained on the Board until 1996, before he became the inaugural Chairman of the NSW Thoroughbred Racing Board (later Racing NSW).

In 1998, Mr Charley was elected as inaugural Chairman of the Australian Racing Board, a position he held until 2004.

Bob has gone on to hold a number of prominent positions in the racing industry as an administrator, including as Vice-Chairman of the Asian Racing Federation, and a member of the governing council of the International Conference of Horse Racing Authorities, as well as a Member of its wagering sub-committee.

Since 2011, Bob has also been the Chairman of the Australian Racing Hall Of Fame.

For all of his great service to thoroughbred racing and the community, Bob was appointed in 2001 as an Officer Of The Order of Australia.

But through all this, Mr Charley nominates the privatisation of the TAB and its ongoing returns to racing as one of his greatest achievements.

“To this day it allows Racing NSW and the ATC continue to do a brilliant job in making Sydney racing the best of anywhere in the world,” he said.

For now, he is looking forward to more years going to races with the Australian Turf Club and his fellow Members.

“Thanks to our Members, this Club has been able to catalogue an entire history of our racing, something of which we should be most proud.

“I also think the interest and influence of country Members of the ATC has been remarkable, and they have been great participants in racing even through the hard times.”

You can purchase Bob Charley’s new book ‘Heroes and Champions’ now.

‘Heroes and Champions’ showcases the horses, jockeys, trainers and events that made Australian racing great.
Illustrated with the finest examples of Australian equine art.
Painstakingly researched by Bob Charley this magnificent publication is a large folio work of just under 280 pages, with high quality illustrations including two superb fold outs.

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