The West

Ovens can stand heat in the kitchen
Jeff Ovens at Gloucester Park. Picture: Ben Crabtree/The West Australian

Jeff Ovens will resist the temp- tation to make a blazing start to his new role as boss of WA's $2 billion racing industry, instead preferring to step cautiously into a world he describes as a complex business.

Ovens will take over as Racing and Wagering WA chairman on Friday, replacing Ross Bowe.

The 60-year-old boasts a strong resume as a businessman and administrator.

Ovens, in his role as chief executive of the WA Football Commission, and ex-WAFC chairman Peter Tannock rescued State football from the brink of bankruptcy in the early 1990s.

He was appointed to the RWWA board a year ago and has sat on the Integrity Assurance Committee.

"I've always wanted to get involved in the industry but I've been too busy in other areas," he said.

"Ross (Bowe) has done very well to stabilise the industry.

"The primary goal of RWWA is to continue to make the industry sustainable. I am surprised at how complex a business racing is to try to earn dollars for.

"We have so many people in the industry who want RWWA to stand up for them and look after their interests. I will be working as closely as possible with the industry to see what the key issues are.

"If we don't get it all right it is going to affect the three codes and those people in the industry."

Ovens said he was prepared to make hard and, if necessary, unpopular decisions.

"There are continual pressures on the industry and this is the challenge we face," Ovens said.

"In terms of trends the racing industry is not unlike football.

"When I first got involved in State football there were major issues with infrastructure and high capital costs.

"You don't take on the job as chairman … unless you are prepared to make tough decisions."

The West Australian

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