THE Macarthur region owes a debt of gratitude to the inspirational leadership of Rex Horne.
Mr Horne’s vision and drive were behind the NSW Harness Racing Club’s move from its traditional home, Harold Park in inner-city Glebe, to rural Menangle Park in 2008.
It was a gut-wrenching move for many harness racing officials, owners, drivers and the sport’s supporters at the time.
But Mr Horne, who was convinced the shift to Menangle Park would lead harness racing into a new modern era, retired as chairman of the club on Sunday knowing his vision was being fulfilled.
With the support of chief executive John Dumesny and the board of directors, Tabcorp Park Menangle has been transformed into harness racing’s Mecca.
The view from the newly opened $30 million grandstand across the rural vista of Menangle Park is stunning. It must surely be the best view of any racetrack in the world. To Mr Horne, Mr Dumesny and the countless others involved in the rejuvenation of Tabcorp Park Menangle – take a bow.
The grandstands, racing stalls with public viewing areas and the improvements to the 1400m track are part of the club’s long-term strategy to forge its position as a leader of national and international harness racing. All this is just the beginning.
After Harold Park was sold for more than $180 million the club had the money to invest in its future, and at Menangle Park it has the space to do it. Many of us remember the dusty racecourse and the small grandstand, used annually for the Campbelltown Show. Visitors to the new complex will be amazed at the transformation.
On Friday night at a gala event to open the new grandstand, architect Chris Dunkerly said he wanted to achieve the “wow factor’’.
My first word as I walked into the grandstand entrance was “wow’’. While harness racing is the winner in Tabcorp Park
Menangle’s transformation, so is the Macarthur region.
The investment of millions in our area offers a significant economic boost. As well as job creation, race meetings such as the Miracle Mile and the Inter Dominion attract thousands of visitors to the region, many enjoying the hospitality of our restaurants, cafes and hotels.
Mr Horne, thank you for seeing the potential of the Macarthur region. It was a privilege to be among the 350 guests who gave the visionary former chairman a standing ovation when club officials announced the new grandstand would be named
in his honour.