Vale Sally Chirnside

8 June 2022 Written by VRC

The Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Board and broader community is deeply saddened by the passing of racing trailblazer Sally Chirnside, who died on Friday, 3 June, 2022.

Mrs Chirnside became the first female committee member of any Principal Racing Authority in Australia when she was elected to the VRC committee in July, 1991, having finished second to the most successful Lexus Melbourne Cup-winning owner Lloyd Williams at her first attempt in 1990.

Her election was widely lauded, including by training legend Gai Waterhouse – who at the time was still a year away from being granted her licence.

"Women in racing are rejoicing," wrote Waterhouse in the Sydney Morning Herald, also noting that Mrs Chirnside's exemplary credentials made her a perfect fit for the committee.

Mrs Chirnside and her husband, grazier Andrew, bred and raced a number of top horses including the Bart Cummings-trained Lord Dudley, winner of the Australian Cup, Blamey Stakes, VRC Sires' Produce Stakes and VRC St Leger at Flemington.

From the outset, Mrs Chirnside knew what she stood for and where she could make a difference.

"It is a priority of mine to keep prizemoney at its present level," Mrs Chirnside told the Fairfax papers, adding later: "Catering, marketing and the apprentice school are my targets. I don't want to run the TAB."

Mrs Chirnside served on the committee until her retirement in April, 2002, by which time Racing Victoria had become the state's Principal Racing Authority.

"Mrs Chirnside will be remembered by all involved at the Victoria Racing Club and the thoroughbred racing industry as a woman who broke through the glass ceiling with determination, dignity, passion and a sense of grace," VRC Chairman Neil Wilson said.

"We acknowledge her incredible contribution to the industry and the remarkable legacy that she leaves. 

"She will be sadly missed at Flemington and by all throughout the thoroughbred racing industry."

The condolences of all at the VRC are extended to the Chirnside family.