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Penny shines with top award

Seymour Racing Club chief executive honoured as the Lady of Racing.

CHALPAT SONTI February 28, 2013 10:26am

Seymour Racing Club chief executive proudly displays the white-gold and diamond pin she received for winning the Victorian Wakeful Club's Lady of Racing award.

Seymour Racing Club chief executive Penny Reeve has been honoured with a prestigious industry award.

Reeve was last week selected as the recipient of the Victorian Wakeful Club’s Lady in Racing award. The club, which honours the name of one of the female greats of the turf, was set up to foster and encourage women in a still male-dominated industry.

Reeve was one of four finalists for the award, whose past recipients include Michelle Payne, Fran Houlahan, Wendy Kelly and Shelley Hancox.

The win took her by surprise. It is the second time she has been on the shortlist.

‘‘There were some very good finalists and I was surprised and thrilled to win it,’’ she said.

‘‘It is a great honour. I guess the Wakeful Club started it because the racing industry is heavily-biased towards men but now women are making huge inroads. It is nice to be recognised as one of those ladies still making a difference.

‘‘I’m very lucky in that I’ve had great support from the Seymour committee in my time here, but not all committees view women administrators in that light. There aren’t many others around. Certainly times have changed, it used to be the old boys club, but not so much now.’’

It is within the Seymour Racing Club that she has come to the fore. After joining as assistant secretary in 1997, she became the only female chief executive of a Victorian racing club in 2007.

And the club has come a long way in that time, to the point it is now the north-east’s premier racing venue, the starting point for many a good horse’s career and a vital cog in the industry wheel, hosting 20 race meetings a year.

And it’s to a hopefully-bright future that Reeve looks ahead. The racecourse masterplan is in the hands of the Racing Victoria board and approval and funding from both RVL and the Victorian Government could see Seymour take its rightful place in the front ranks of training venues to go with the region’s already pre-eminent position as a thoroughbred breeding region.

‘‘We hope that Seymour will continue to grow and training ranks as well if we can continue along in the way we are,’’ Mrs Reeve said.

‘‘We’ve come a long way in the past 10 years. We’ve gone from 12 to 20 meetings a year and there’s between 100 and 130 horses being trained here every morning. We’ll just keep pushing things along and doing what we can afford to financially.’’

Reeve’s was the second nationally-significant racing award to come the way of club employees in the past few months, after racecourse manager Brett Thompson won the Australian regional racecourse manager of the year.

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