Geoff Barnett has announced he will step down as Chairman of the Newcastle Jockey Club after steering the state’s premier provincial club since 2011.
Barnett was voted onto the NJC Board in a ballot in 1999 and elected as Vice Chairman in 2009. In 2011 Racing NSW Stewards deemed the Broadmeadow track as unfit for racing and closed down racing on the course proper.
The Chairman at the time resigned and the Board elevated Barnett to the position of Chairman and the NJC carried out major remediation on the course proper which allowed the club to continue racing.
With Barnett at the helm the NJC applied to Racing NSW for funding to replace the course proper at a cost of more than $12 million. A condition of the funding was that there was to be a restructuring of the NJC Board and a special meeting of members was called to vote on the restructure and with 200 members in attendance the vote was 99% in favour of the changes.
That decision led to the building of the current course proper recognised as one of the state’s best and fairest. Barnett told the club that he made the decision to step down as Chairman some months ago and advised Racing NSW boss Peter V’Landys.
“We have business’ in South Africa and Cardiff and Maureen and I will be doing a lot of travel next year. I contacted Peter V’Landys about my decision to step down some months back,” he said.
“I love this club and was proud to be the Chairman for a lengthy period and I intend staying on the Board for at least another year.
“We have a terrific Board and wonderful staff at the NJC and I believe I am leaving the position of Chairman with the club in a good position. Our current CEO Duane Dowell joined the NJC after gaining experience at the Muswellbrook Club and his contribution to this club going forward has been exceptional. I was so proud of The Hunter last week as I believe it was one of the great race days in all aspects in my years with the club.”
“There has been many highlights in my time in the Chair but the rebuilding of the course proper stands out. Another was a year or two back when Newcastle was selected to run the postponed Group 1 Metropolitan race meeting.”
“There is a disappointing issue during my chairmanship. My major regret is that I have not been able to improve our stables. Newcastle trainers are some of the best in New South Wales and deserve better facilities that we can afford.
“I have fought hard and long for funding over the years and while we are still pressing for funding, I wish I could have achieved the result the club sought.”
“Without family support I could not have spent the time with the NJC and particularly Maureen my wife. We have been a team,” the outgoing Chairman said.
The Barnetts have raced many horses over the years with Australian Bloodstock. Newcastle Cup winner Mugatoo and Ashrun are two that come to mind.
Barnett will officially hand over the reins at the December Board meeting.