“I am privileged and honoured to be asked to introduce the person who is to be inducted into the EV Hall Of Fame this evening because this man is a legend and was a great mentor to me in many ways. When I was asked to do so, I consulted some of his family members to see if there was anything in particular they would like me to include. His Daughter, a chip off the old block, like her father, shoots straight from the hip, said tell them what a scoundrel bastard he was but added just as quickly, tell them that we loved him dearly. In a weird sort of way, to those of us who knew him, that pretty well summed up this man.
He was a scallywag, mischievous, a renowned ladies man. He drank too much, he smoked too much … and those were his good points!
So why, I can hear you asking is this person being honoured here tonight. Well there was a lot more to this man than that. In fact to my mind, this man was the most influential person in the history of equestrian sport in Victoria. In fact I was quite shocked when I realised he had not already been awarded the award he’s about to receive. Logically a lot of younger people here tonight may not know of this person so let me give you a little insight into his achievements.
Firstly he was a fine judge of a horse. He was an accomplished horseman and a great huntsman with the Melbourne Hunt Club. But it was as an administrator that he really had such an influence on our sport.
He was an ideas man with a vision. Often his vision caused rebellion against the establishment but if he had a cause in which he believed, he fought tooth and nail to achieve his aim. But he could also be a super diplomat as he so often needed to be. He treated Royalty the same as he did someone doing the most menial task … provided they did it well.
He was charismatic and always immaculately dressed, readily identified in the winter by his beautiful camel coat which was part of him. To quote a family member he “scratched people when they didn’t even know they had an itch. And sometimes he scratched them even when they did know because it was a good idea”.
So you can imagine how much scratching he had to do when in 1983 he proposed to the EFA (Equestrian Federation of Australia) committee that a showhorse committee be formed and put on an equal footing with the Olympic disciplines. Hitherto the showhorse competitors had no committee, no rules and were virtually shunned and laughed at by the establishment of the EFA who only wanted to know about the Olympic disciplines.
However despite the strength of those in positions of authority within the EFA he persevered and chaired the first show horse committee, which due to his efforts, became an equal partner with eventing, showjumping and dressage within the EFA.
Barastoc Horse Of The Year had been running for some time at that stage, principally as an adjunct and time filler at the major showjumping event in Victoria, the Victorian Championships. However this person had a vision beyond a local Horse of the Year competition and set about establishing a National Showhorse Championship which quickly became the most prestigious showhorse event in Australia.
Further, he saw beyond that and saw the event as an international event and as a result, New Zealand was invited and it became the Australasian Horse and Rider Championships.
All thanks to this man.
But that was only one of his many achievements. He was Victorian Chairman fo EFA for many years and as a fellow committee man I can attest to the fact that he was an outstanding chairman and leader.
From there he was invited to be Federal Chairman of the EFA, a position he declined but accepted the role as Federal Vice Chairman.
He was ring master at Melbourne Royal Show for 11 years during its halcyon years when he was responsible for not only running the horse events but also the other ring attractions, and entertaining visiting dignitaries which he did with aplomb.
He was also extremely instrumental in creating and co-ordinating the Melbourne Three Day Event when the cross country was held at Oaklands Hunt Club, the dressage at Flemington Racecourse and the showjumping at Melbourne showgrounds
Added to that, he was an important cog in in the wheel of the Melbourne Showjumping Club including running the Barastoc Showjumper of the Year when it was held at Olympic Park.
As I said earlier, I’ve never known and doubt I ever will see again, anyone more influential in our equestrian sport.
I hope from that, you can see why this man thoroughly deserves the recognition he is about to receive.
The 2019 Equestrian Victoria Hall of Fame inductee is William McLelland ‘Mac’ Greaves.”
– Peter Heagney