It seems fitting that a Riverina born and bred administrator will represent the interests of the Southern Districts on the Racing NSW Country Board.
Kevin Cross, born and raised in Coolamon, has been a Wagga resident since the mid 1980s, running a local business and working with the Murrumbidgee Turf Club (MTC) and Southern Districts Racing Association (SDRA).
Cross recently took over from the outgoing Michael Inglis as the Southern Districts representative on the Racing NSW Country Board, and while he wasn’t born into racing, the 62-year-old has a passion for the industry.
“I started going to the races in Wagga in 1985, and in 1990, I went shares in our first horse, called Savage Waters,” Cross said.
“It had one win, and that was the end of it. It liked heavy tracks and there was a bit of drought about, so that didn’t work in our favour.
“Then I went into another couple of horses in the middle 90s and currently, I’ve got shares in a few horses. We did have one down on the South Coast and I’ve got two here in Wagga with Wayne Carroll.”
Cross, a lover of all things sports and racing, commenced his administrative career in the Farrer League, helping the North Wagga Saints to success.
“I was on football committees for about 15 years,” Cross explained.
“I was president of the North Wagga footy club for 10s years and we had a successful period and got a few premierships when I was there.
“Then I progressed to the Farrer League and AFL Riverina board.”
With a certain nous for administration complementing his interest in thoroughbred racing, Cross soon found himself on the MTC board.
“I was asked to go on the board at the MTC eight years ago,” Cross said.
“I do enjoy putting back into sports I have an interest in, rather than just being a participant.
“I look into the backgrounds of sports and get my fingers into them and make those particular sport betters If I can.
“That’s what happened with footy and North Wagga, and the same with racing; I just looked to help where I could.”
Cross made an impression on the MTC board and soon found himself on the SDRA board.
“I started on the committee in Wagga. I was on three sub-committees there and after two years I took over chairmanship of the promotions and sponsorship committee and three years ago I started on the SDRA board,” Cross said.
“That was a natural progression from a club point of view to go to the (Southern) district board and I was happy to help.”
With long serving SDRA representative and former Racing NSW Country Deputy Chairman, Michael Inglis calling time on his tenure with the Racing NSW Country board in 2021, Cross saw it as the perfect time to step into a new role.
“When Michael (Inglis) had left the Murrumbidgee Turf Club committee, he said he would probably stay on the Country Racing board for two years and then it would be time to step aside and put in a new face,” Cross said.
“Geoff Harrison, our president at Wagga, asked if I would be interested in going on the board to look after the Southern Districts, and I spoke to about six different clubs in the area to get their thoughts on it.
“When Michael finally decided to step down, there was no other nominations for our area, so I basically got on there.”
Cross said a conversation with Racing NSW Country Chairman, Bob Pavitt, soon outlined his new role as the SDRA representative.
“When I went on the board, I had a sit down talk with Chairman, Bob Pavitt, and he said, ‘you’re on here to represent all country clubs, and there are over 70 clubs in country NSW’.
“He also said, ‘when we want to know something about your area, we need your knowledge about that region’, and that is basically my main role.”
Cross was soon put to work, and in a short period, the Wagga-based administrator has already helped the Leeton Jockey Club.
“To give you an example, I have spoken to a president (Grant Fitzsimon) of one of our clubs (Leeton Jockey Club),” Cross said.
“They put forward that they needed to build bigger jockey’s rooms for our women, and I took that to our last meeting, and it looks as though they will get that finance and that is the kind of work that we want to be doing for our country clubs.”
Funding is always a sensitive topic, although Cross was open and honest, admitting that he wanted to see more money spent on Southern District racetracks.
“There has been a big swing in recent years and funding has started to head north of Sydney, especially in the Hunter Valley, such as the Scone Tafe being turned into an equine Tafe,” Cross said.
“We do get good funding from Country Racing and Racing NSW, but we need more funding and the right funding for clubs that really need it.
“I want to work with clubs, and what clubs see in their future and at the end of the day, I would like to be their voice on the Country Racing board and to push their cases to the top and get help where possible.”