It was a bitter-sweet goodbye last week to Moruya Jockey Club's manager Brian Cowden, who has saddled up ready for semi-retirement in Queensland.
As he buzzed around the grounds during his final race meet as manager on Thursday, January 14, he was frequently intercepted by people sharing their gratitude and wishing him all the best.
His 15 years holding the reins since 2008 have not gone unnoticed. The club was twice named Racing NSW Country Club of the Year.
"A reflection of that was shown by Racing NSW's keenness to buy the racecourse off the shire," Mr Cowden said.
Mr Cowden had a hat full of ideas, initiating renovations and improvements to the club and facilities. However, he said the club's successes would not exist without its volunteers.
It has been a pleasure to come to work.Brian Cowden
"Race attendants, barrier volunteers and the board are all such a great bunch," he said.
"There are people like Peter Afflick who have spent more than 20 years volunteering and organising the barrier attendant team and anything else that's required. It has been a pleasure to come to work."
He felt proud of the 500-plus members, who all contribute to the club's atmosphere.
"Some clubs are lucky to have 100 members," he said.
"There's a genuine racing community here, from when the old track was at the golf course.
"The track moved out here in the 80s, and we have had about 100 race horses trained here in a little country town."
Mr Cowden grew up in a racing family.
"I had my first bet when I was eight," he laughed.
Throughout his childhood, he would attend races with family.
"I have followed horse racing ever since," he said.
Growing up, he dreamed of a job in the industry.
After 27 years in the Navy, his dream came true.
He moved to Moruya with his wife Francesca in 2004, to be close to a racetrack and get involved in the club.
"Life panned out perfectly," he said.
He felt the club was well-established and was leaving it in "good shape and good hands".
Tuross Head race enthusiast Ken Brown will fill his shoes.
"He is the perfect sort of guy for the job," Mr Cowden said. The next phase of life for the couple is a move to Brisbane to be close to their daughters and city offerings.