23 September 2020
With racing as the lifeblood of the Club and moreso now than ever, Leigh Jordon, Executive General Manger – Racing, is charged with one of the most important jobs of overseeing and protecting all things racing including Flemington’s onsite Training Centre from the impacts of Covid19. Growing up with racing, Cup Day has always been special for Leigh and this year will be no different.
My role at the VRC is … Executive General Manager - Racing
I am responsible for … all things racing at the Club; covering race days, race programming, equine welfare, wagering and international racing. The Training Centre is also managed by the Racing Department which is operational every day of the year housing 18 trainers and just over 600 horses.
The most rewarding part of my job is ... to work for the best racing club in the world with a great team of people. To be involved with the Lexus Melbourne Cup which is an iconic event – there’s so much history and it’s part of our Australian culture. It’s the race of the people and I feel privileged to be involved.
A challenging part of my job is … pest control. That’s something I didn’t imagine I’d be facing into when I first started the role in 2018! The rodents and amount of birds at the Training Centre is a challenge and Covid-19 has made it more testing.
A proud moment in my career thus far ... there hasn’t been a single moment as such….. so I’d say, dealing with the passionate people that make up the sport of horse racing, from administrators to trainers, jockeys, owners, breeders and the racing fans. The sport is global so it is great to meet people from all over the world and make long lasting friendships.
I love the sport of racing because ... it has always been part of my family growing up. Mum and Dad always made a big day of the Melbourne Cup, chicken and champagne in the morning, a Cup sweep in the neighbourhood. That led to following the sport as a teenager, then owning horses and always enjoying a bet.
My favourite racing moment to date ... was in ownership of a horse called Mad Shavirl with Stawell trainer Terry O’Sullivan. She was a talented mare who won the Swettenham Stud Stakes in Adelaide over 1200m which at the time was a Group 2 event. All the owners were in attendance and the weekend was a blur.
Someone who I admire (in racing or just generally) is … Brian Beattie who was my CEO when I was at the Victoria Racing Club in the 90’s, he had the ability to get straight to the source of the problem and block out the white noise. He was a tough leader but fair and I have the pleasure of still remaining friends with him today.
A horse I have loved or admired is … Makybe Diva, I don’t think we will see another horse win three Melbourne Cups in a row. I had the pleasure of being in the middle of the mounting yard when she won the third Melbourne Cup in 2005 - the scenes were unbelievable. I remember looking at the stands when she returned to scale - some 100,000 plus fans in attendance - everybody was standing and applauding. I have never experienced such a reception for a horse at the races, it was spine tingling and very emotional.
My job was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic because ... it has changed the whole atmosphere on race day. Although we have been lucky to keep racing alive through this period, it is an eerie feeling on race day with only the participants and officials in attendance. During the race you feel as though you are in the field, the sound of the horses galloping, the roar of the jockeys, you can hear everything.
We overcame the challenges of the pandemic by ... changing the way we looked at providing value to our fans and most importantly our members. We created VRC at Home by working with the Clubs’ sponsors and corporate partners to provide excellent goods and services online, and there is more to come over the Melbourne Cup Carnival with a range of offerings to make our racegoers feel like they are trackside.
In my spare time I like to ... spend time with my family and friends and follow horse racing domestically and internationally.