A Visionary Leader
In 1958, thoroughbred race meetings in Western Australia were not well attended. The sport was overshadowed by harness racing and the bank account at the Western Australian Turf Club was near empty. When Harry Gatenby Bolton took on the leadership, the improvement in the racing industry was monumental. By the end of his term in 1978, crowds were in the tens of thousands, the on-course tote turnover on the Perth Cup was over $1million and the infrastructure of thoroughred racing had advanced substantially.
Taking the position of Managing Secretary, Harry Bolton brought Western Australian racing through a period of great development. At the helm of change was Bolton's entrepreneurial mind, business acumen and a personable touch that enabled his vision to become reality.
With a supportive committee, which included Sir Ernest Lee-Steere, Bolton made changes. He brought in the starting gates, the movable running rail and the first totalisator machine. He commissioned on-course closed circuit television and the installation of a photo finish system. He was instrumental in the formation of the TAB and he established the first International Stipendiary Stewards' Conference. He worked hard to attract jockeys and trainers from the Eastern States for the Exhibition Stakes each year and through a focus on promotion, built enormous crowds. He introduced computers to racing administration and assisted in the development of the provincial and country race clubs.
Bolton's greatest achievement was the construction of the Belmont Park grandstand and redevelopment of the racecourse. The grandstand was state-of-the-art for its time and the Belmont Park track came to be regarded as one of the best all-weather circuits in Australia. Bolton was able to travel extensively and always returned to Western Australia with the best ideas from around the world.
A Memorable Contribution
“He was the foremost administrator of racing in Australia and transformed racing in this State, so far as administration is concerned, more than any other man.”
Sir Charles Court, Premier of Western Australia
The West Australian, 21st April 1978,‘Racing Owes a lot to Harry Bolton'
The Australian Derby
Harry Bolton introduced the Australian Derby in 1972 as a successor to the Challenge Stakes, an invitation race for 3 year olds. Bolton didn't start small; he convinced General Motors Holden to take on the sponsorship and in the 20 years it was conducted in Western Australia, it was contested by some of the best 3 year olds from Australia and New Zealand.
HG Bolton's First Day
Harry Bolton always remembered walking into the board room on the first day he began work at the Western Australian Turf Club. He was handed a bank statement which showed there was just one pound thirteen shillings and four pence in the club's account.
A Man for The People
Bolton made a point of consulting both race-goers and participants to determine the improvements necessary to raise the standard of racing in Perth. In building the grandstand at Belmont Park he worked hard to ensure the public areas, as well as the members' facilities, were upgraded.