IT'S an end of an era for the Bathurst Harness Racing Club as two of the committee's long serving members get set to embark on their next adventure.
Outgoing Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer and sponsorship and marketing manager Marianne Donnelly were presented gifts by NSW Harness Racing CEO Peter Buckman on Tuesday to acknowledge a combined 33 years of service for the club.
Buckman and incoming Bathurst CEO Brendan Micallef thanked the pair for their tireless efforts in promoting and developing harness racing during a time of exciting developments for the sport in the city.
Dwyer leaves the club following nearly 17 years in the role of CEO, which he took up after serving on the board for two years, while Donnelly departs after starting with the club in 2009.
They leave their roles having played a major part in the organisation of numerous successful Gold Crown Carnivals, major promotions and the development of the new Bathurst harness racing precinct.
"It's a bit surreal to see a changing of the guard but it's the right way for the club, moving forward. Brendan is a great applicant for the job and I'm sure he'll do a great job," Dwyer said.
"It was great to see Harness Racing NSW recognising the achievements of not only myself but Marianne as well over a long period of time. It's a lovely gift and it means a lot to me personally."
Donnelly first came to the BHRC working reception and basic administration.
From there her role evolved into sponsorship duties, Gold Crown payment management and function management.
Donnelly said there's plenty of highlights that come to mind in her time with the club.
"It's been a great journey. I'd worked for 18 years at Sydney and then Danny asked if I wanted to work with him about 15 years ago. It's been a great ride and we work so well together. We're a great team," she said.
"The final night at the Showground was such a great meeting. It was such a good vibe and I loved that night so much.
"The 25th anniversary for the Gold Crown was great. We did a car giveaway with businesses in the community and that created such a good buzz as well.
"The opening meeting up [at the new track] here was wonderful, with Dami Im performing."
One of Dwyer's highlights was also the last Showground meeting, especially phantom call put on by Mark McNamara, Craig Easy and Kevin Thompson.
Even though their committee roles are coming to an end there's no chance that Dwyer and Donnelly will be stepping away from harness racing.
Dwyer still has a small stable of horses in training - a passion that he's maintained for nearly four decades.
He trained his first winner back in 1985, Gavil Park, and three years later scored a big win when Duchess Of Vale took out the Gold Tiara Consolation.
As he looks forward to enjoying extra time with his wife Di and daughters Sarah and Mel he'll continue to keep horses in work.
Donnelly said she also looks forward to spending time with her family and still expects to frequently be around for Bathurst's regular Wednesday night meetings.
"I'm still a licensed stablehand. I'm still strapping, but I'll probably never drive," she laughed.
"I will miss the people and the closeness to the racing action but look forward to seeing a little more of Nev and Andrew.
"I look forward to catching up with the Supercars, training my new horse and will continue to compete as a rider for as long as I can. I love riding and wish I could gain further ribbons, as I did when I enjoyed my biggest achievement - winning Supreme Champion Arabian at the Sydney Royal Easter Show."
Harness Racing NSW board member Peter Nugent said the Bathurst harness community owes a lot to the long-serving duo for their services to the industry.
"Danny's wife Di and the girls have endured much disruption to weekends, race nights, meetings etc but have supported him 100% in allowing him the freedom to get the job done. He owes them a great deal," he said.
"He appreciated working with people that were proactive and said the collaborative approach and friendship displayed by the Western Districts Committee was testament that a united approach helped everyone.
"Marianne, I believe, is seen by all participants who frequent BHRC as a person of integrity. A person completely dedicated to her role and willing to put herself out to make people feel welcome and wanted.
"The Bathurst community thanks and congratulates Danny and Marianne for their service to Harness Racing and the sporting life of the city. We wish them good health in whatever endeavour they pursue in the future."