What makes a great President of a race club?


Ring ring ring, the phone is going off, hello says the President, “do you realise it is 5am in the morning”, “yes” says the track manager “we have a problem”.

“We have had too much rain and we will not be able to race today.”

“But,” says the President “it is one our biggest days, surely you can do something.”

“The forecast does not look good and we need to confirm with the stewards, the control body, trainers and jockeys.”

The preparation of a race day can be nerve wracking when you cannot control the weather and so much preparation goes into a raceday by countless staff, volunteers, contractors, suppliers and sponsors.

Going to the races and having a great day is all about dressing up, glamming up and having fun and watching exciting racing. A great social day out both for business and pleasure.

The President of a race club is a demanding position in a thrilling and passionate sport of horse racing.

The President of a race club can also be called a Chairman or Chairperson depending on the size and scale and the club’s model rules or constitution.

It is often a thankless role and very often a volunteer position and unpaid.

A good club President can make or break a club. When a club president is committed to the group, enthusiastic about its cause and supportive of its members, the club can thrive and succeed.

On the other hand, a president who's secretive, negative and micromanaging can chase away potential members and cause the club to go under.

Depending on the size of the club and organisational structure, if the club is made of mainly volunteers then the President is often deemed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the club. In most larger clubs the President will have a CEO or General Manager as their “Wingman” who is the doer on the ground.

They need to brings a wealth of knowledge to the role with experience in business, venue, event and management roles.

They need to have great event management skills.

They need to be a great communicator to deal with the CEO, General Manager, Treasurer, Secretary, committee, members, public and sponsors.

A good President puts his own self interest last as well as any confliect of interest and focuses on the members and public to ensure great customer service and the importance of the racing product and the creation of an event that the patron wants to come back to.

The President of the club through the Committee or Board manages and oversees the operations of the Club through the Chief Executive Officer/General Manager including:

  1. Ensuring Club spending and other financial actions (such as the disposal of assets) are for legitimate purposes, represents value for money and are supported by appropriate documentation.
  2. Providing accurate, complete and timely information on Club finances to the Control Body and to their members.
  3. Ensuring policies are established
  4. Complying with directions from the Control Body
  5. Committee members cannot act independently without the authority of the full Committee.


Key attributes of a great President of a race club: 
  1. Takes the role seriously and champions the club's cause with all their spirit.
  2. Helps the club and its members succeed in its vision
  3. Is personable and engaging
  4. Understands the customer and his team
  5. Understands that tradition does not pay the bills and embraces digital technology to engage the racing and event fan
  6. Keeps a tab on any subcommittees that might form in the club, as well as the other club officers, but doesn't micromanage
  7. The Presidents role isn't to be the treasurer, social chair and volunteer coordinator, but rather to support them in their endeavours.
  8. Learns the rules and does not make up rules and regulations to their own whims
  9. Is transparent and not secretive about the club’s commitments, partnerships or finances. Members might become suspicious or disillusioned with the club. At each club meeting, share a budgetary update with the Committee so everyone understands how the club is being financed and understands the risks to the club
  10. Drives financial performance with lazer focus on the numbers
  11. Is inclusive and enthused
  12. Is excited about the club’s vision. If the club president isn't excited about the mission and activities of the club, no one else will be either. Part of your duties as club president is to keep a positive attitude and cheerlead the committee’s activities. Additionally, be inclusive of participants and welcome new members whenever possible. Listen to the ideas of the others on the committee, even if they're not part of the leadership, and allow each member to feel as if they have a say in the group's commitments, mission and overall success.
  13. Drives corporate sponsorship through effective relationships and offers facilities where companies and sponsors want to entertain their clients
  14. Partners with other major brands and sporting codes to cross promote with fans and customers (AFL, Rugby league, rugby union to name a few)
  15. Not all about the racing and has many other areas of expertise to offer
  16. A great President looks forward and does not dwell on the past

To sum it up a great President of a race club must:

  1. Be Ethical
  2. Not act independently
  3. Think strategically and drives the vision
  4. Is transparent and manages relationships
  5. Drives day to day operational decisions through the CEO or General Manager

I will leave you with a quote from Richard Branson

“I’m not the bravest or smartest person, but I’m courageous enough to dream big, challenge myself and take bold risks” 

If you love this article please share. If your club needs assistance let Adam know on 0400 761 700 or info@carmalkconsulting.com.au

Photo courtesy of Beaudesert Race Club in Queensland.

Adam Carter | Carmalk Consulting


M: 0400 761 700

W: (07) 3869 2573

E: info@carmalkconsulting.com.au

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