Respected thoroughbred leader and breeder John Messara has been unanimously appointed the first independent Chair of Racing Australia, re-assuming the position he held from 2014 until 2016.
The Arrowfield Stud Founder and Chairman, who was inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame as an associate in May, assumes the role left vacant after Greg Nichols' term concluded in April 2021.
In order to be eligible to fill the role, Messara was also appointed as an independent director on the Racing Australia board, the first time that someone other than those directors nominated by each of the Principal Racing Authorities has been appointed to the board.
With a long list of leadership roles in Australian racing, including as Racing NSW Chairman from 2011 to 2016, which also included his term as Racing Australia Chair. Messara's appointment as an independent and powerful voice appears to be a major step towards resolving the state-based rivalries which have stymied Racing Australia's ability to act on several key industry issues.
Messara thanked the Directors for the opportunity and responsibility to continue the work of Racing Australia as Chair, and paid tribute to Nichols, who remains on the Board as a director.
“Greg has made an outstanding contribution as Chairman, particularly over the last 16 months dealing with the many challenges our industry has faced due to the direct and indirect impacts of COVID-19," he said.
“After more than four years away from administration, I can see how much more our industry can achieve with strong interstate relationships and collaboration. I look forward to working with all the Principal Racing Authorities, the Directors and Racing Australia’s Executive for the benefit of everyone who works and invests in the Australian thoroughbred industry."
Messara's independence on the board will prove crucial if several pressing issues, such as animal welfare, whip reform and the prolonged debate between the states over the Group and Listed racing pattern are to be resolved. The Racing Australia Board will next meet in mid-July.