Rob Bovell started as the Junior Office Boy at Gloucester Park in 1969 and spent his entire working life in the harness racing industry before his retirement in 2012 – 43 years service.
Rob had a background in harness racing through his father Les and uncle Alex and combined with his business acumen and a determination to success he worked in all areas of operations at Gloucester Park including Racing, Accounts, Stewards and IT departments.
In 1976 Rob was promoted to WA Trotting Association Office and Computer Operations Manager at a time when the WATA had begun to embrace the then new technology of computers.
Under Rob’s guidance the WATA introduced the world’s first computer managed harness racing system in the world and the WATA later transferred the embryonic system to Harness Racing Victoria who then continued its development into the current day HaRVEY system.
While working at Gloucester Park Ron studied part-time until he gained a Bachelor of Business Degree with a Major in Accounting and in 1979 he left the WATA to take up a position as Secretary Manager of the Fremantle Trotting Club.
He worked in that role for the FTC for a decade before returning to Gloucester Park as Chief Executive Officer in 1989 not long after the conduct of that year’s Inter Dominion.
A passionate advocate for harness racing Rob fought long and hard to ensure that harness racing received the recognition it deserved and a fair share of the WA TAB distribution.
Over the years this passion and determination often saw Rob having to fight extremely hard to get his point of view across but his determination saw him earn respect from all his peers.
In 2008 Rob was presented with a Distinguished National Service Award from Harness Racing Australia and in 2012 the Inter Dominion Event Committee further recognised Rob’s work when they presented him with the 2012 Brian Hancock Distinguished Service Award.
It was unanimously decision to present Rob with the Award for his outstanding service to the Inter Dominion.
“Rob has presided over three successful Inter Dominion carnivals during his period of time at Gloucester Park including the highly acclaimed 2012 event”. Mr Gary Allen, Chairman of the Inter Dominion Event Committee stated at the time.
“Rob retired from the position of Chief Executive Officer of Gloucester Park Harness Racing Club, having commenced there as a junior clerk in 1969. Other than for a period where he was the secretary of the Fremantle Trotting Club Rob has been at Gloucester Park for this entire period of time”.
“Rob has worked tirelessly for the benefit of harness racing both locally and nationally. He has successfully lobbied the WA Government for a better deal and recently oversaw the amalgamation of the Western Australian Trotting Association and Fremantle Harness Racing Club”.
“Rob is of exemplary character and is a very fair and impartial person who will be missed by all involved in the industry after his retirement” Mr Allen said.
It was a fitting tribute to a man who oversaw three outstanding Inter Dominion Championships in 1996, 2004 and 2012.
Later in 2012 Rob Bovell was presented with that year’s James Brennan Award in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the WA Harness Industry.
The James Brennan Award is named after the man whose vision and drive established harness racing in Western Australia and is the State’s premier harness racing award.