As chair of the Victoria Racing Club, Amanda Elliott is one of the most influential people in the racing industry worldwide. She became the first female to head the authority that runs the sport in Victoria - and is therefore responsible for the Melbourne Cup at Flemington - when she was elected unopposed two years ago.
She found time to take part in our What They’re Thinking series even though it’s an enormously busy time at Flemington just now - Mystic Journey was an impressive winner of the G1 Australian Guineas there on Saturday, the G1 Newmarket Handicap and Australian Cup headline this coming weekend’s ‘Super Saturday’ card, and seven days later sees the first running of the new A$5 million All-Star Mile, for which ten of the field of 14 are chosen by public ballot.
Who do you think is the most important figure in the history of racing around the world?
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed would have to be considered, alongside John Magnier of Coolmore and the late Robert Sangster. For me, in an equine sense – Sadler’s Wells and his amazing son Galileo.
What is your favourite venue and race (anywhere in the world)?
My favourite venue will come as no surprise – Flemington. I also love Ascot and York in England for their beautiful, historic precincts, their wonderful racing and their passionate crowds.
What is your fondest memory in racing?
I can’t separate my fondest memories in racing, and I have so many! So here they are, and in no particular order, and for different reasons:
The emotion of Damien Oliver saluting the heavens when winning the Melbourne Cup in 2002 aboard the Irish horse Media Puzzle, wearing the breeches of his brother, Jason, who had been killed in a racing accident a week earlier.
The awe shown by 120,000 people as Makybe Diva stood motionless looking at packed grandstands after winning her third consecutive Melbourne Cup in 2005 (see video below).
The 2012 Royal meeting at Ascot. Black Caviar winning the Golden Jubilee in a desperate lunge at the line … The mighty Frankel’s win by 11 lengths in the Queen Anne Stakes and the reaction of his trainer, the late Sir Henry Cecil. The Queen’s unadulterated joy at winning the 2013 Gold Cup with Estimate.
What do you see as the biggest challenge racing faces today?
The biggest challenges for racing are: relevance in an increasingly competitive sporting and entertainment sense, and our social licence in the critical area of animal welfare.
If you could change one thing in racing, what would it be?
The perception around integrity and the awareness of all participants of how crucial it is to our sport.