Moonee Valley Racing Club chair Don Casboult stands down as a “world leading” precinct takes shape

News Mar 20, 2023

Moonee Valley Racing Club chairman Don Casboult is stepping down as his “vision for the Valley” transforms landmark course.

A “world-leading” racing, sports, community and lifestyle precinct with parks and a state-of-the-art grandstand loom for the future of one of Melbourne’s most iconic racecourses.

Outgoing Moonee Valley Racing Club chairman Don Casboult has shared his “vision for the Valley”, revealing new details of a masterplan he expects to deliver an exciting new era for the Melbourne landmark.

The Herald Sun can reveal Mr Casboult will on Saturday stand down after seven and a half years as chairman and 17 years on the committee after overseeing the All Star Mile.

He will do so having overseen the largest transformation in the Valley’s 139-year history, with a clear and confident plan of what he wants his legacy to be for the club and precinct.

“My vision is that once this development is complete, this will be an extraordinary racing, residential, retail, commercial community precinct,” he said.

“It will not only be something Moonee Ponds will be proud of, Melbourne will be very proud of.

“It will be one of the greatest venues in Australia and the world.

“My bet is, people will come to Melbourne and say, ‘you know what – I want to go out and have a look at Moonee Valley’ in the same way people go to Hong Kong and say, ‘gee I wouldn’t mind going out to Happy Valley and have a look’.

“It will be tremendous.”

To anchor a precinct, he believes will one day rival Melbourne Park as one of the city’s greatest entertainment precincts, a huge new city-facing grandstand and club house will be built at the Valley.

Designed as a multipurpose venue, the grandstand will host weddings, functions and seminars on non race days , the club’s administration base and co-working office spaces for hire.

The “meeting place for the community” will also house bar and dining venues, a gym, wellness center and day spa.

“It will be close up and personal – closer to the track than you are in the current grandstand – and we are looking at ways of presenting the horses and creating the theatre that makes it such and enjoyable experience,” he said.

Mr Casboult likened the planned venue to the RACV Club in the city and said the club could one day offer MCC style memberships.

“Racing will always be the heart of the Moonee Valley Racing Club but I think over time we will also have other memberships, a sporting and community membership and a clubhouse membership,” he said.

In a win for the community, Mr Casboult vowed that 50,000sqm of land in the middle of the track would be dedicated to much needed open space and parkland.

As residential apartments are built around parts of the course, about 5,000 sqm has already been turned over to the public as part of the Valley’s “Tote Park”.

But Mr Casboult said “ten times that amount” would be gifted to the community in the infield, for running or cycling tracks, sport fields tennis, and netball courts and multipurpose facilities.

“My dream I guess is – and the vision that we have now – is to say ‘let’s find a way as we are doing our redevelopment and pursuing the Valley of Tomorrow … to use the open green spaces we have a Moonee Valley’,” he said.

“This is a community that is a bit starved for open green space and so let’s find a way to open that space for our residents and the local community to enjoy.

“And whether that is sport, recreation, entertainment or markets – here are a whole range of things that we can do.”

After 17 years on the committee, Mr Casboult said his favourite three Cox Plates were easy – Makybe Diva storming down the outside to win in 2015 and Winx winning her third and fourth in 2017 and 18.

Declaring the new Valley would make it “the best night racing venue in the world”, Mr Casboult said a concrete decision on whether the Cox Plate should remain in its traditional timeslot was still a work in progress.

“We still haven’t landed on where the Cox Plate ends up and there will be a lot of debate about that over the next period of time,” he said.

“I think it probably has to stay on the Saturday and the reason I say that is there is a greater opportunity for more people to come along on a Saturday rather than a Friday or Saturday night”.

The Saturday Herald Sun can also reveal that Moonee Valley Racing Club treasurer and board member of six years Adam Lennen will take over as chairman.

Mr Casboult said: “He’s highly skilled, he’s a well credentialed businessman … and a highly intelligent individual.

“He will do well.”

Confident the club had “the financial confidence” to move on, Mr Casboult said it was time for “renewal”.

“There is a lot more work to do but we are excited about it,” he said.

Read the Herald Sun article here.