One of Australia’s most experienced stewards and racing administrators, Fin Powrie, has landed a plum position with the Rashid Equestrian &Horse Racing Club.
Powrie starts his job, as chief racing administrator, in a fortnight and flies to Bahrain on August 15 with his wife Gwenda –and his kelpie, Sheba!
He was appointed to the post by His Highness Sheikh Isa bin Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the vice chairman of the club and a grandson of HH King Hamad.
Sheikh Isa is a man with a passion to increase the status of racing on the island country.
Powrie is no stranger to the international racing circuit having been involved in United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and India. He was also a long serving chairman of stewards in Perth, after working his way through the ranks after commencing with the WA Turf Club in 1979.
Powrie’s role will include setting up a stewarding system and mentoring the panel.
Powrie will be chasing a handicapper, racing manager, course curator and a regulatory veterinarian in his new role.
He was also offered a position by the KRA, the Korean Racing Authority, in Seoul, at the same time as the Bahrain position became available.
The old adage about a prophet receiving little honour at home seems appropriate for Powrie.
He was interested in getting on the RWWA board, on various occasions, but was unsuccessful in gaining a place.
More recently he was passed over for a position in Adelaide as chief steward for the SA Trotting Association.
Although known as a no-nonsense chief stipe, Powrie can also be the consummate diplomat as he revealed when Director of Racing in Dubai-a position he held for over five years.
Starting there in 2001, Powrie was charged with attracting international interest for the Dubai carnival. He got a far better reception at the glittering Palace of Versailles than the German delegation did at the 1919 Peace conference at the same venue.
Whereas the Germans left humiliated Powrie left with a firm promise, from his fellow dinner guest, HH Aga Khan, that he would bring horses to the Emirates racing carnival. He did and so did others.
As a representative of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, in Dubai, Powrie had plenty in his war chest to put the sand kingdom on the racing map by attracting owners of some of the best horses to race there. This included prize money of US$21 million, free horse transportation and a US $50,000 leading trainer bonus.
In 2007 Powrie, then in NZ, returned to Dubai to head the first international stewards conference, in an attempt to get a more global approach to issues affecting racing.
By John Elsegood