The chief executive of Racing NSW has been recognised for his efforts to ensure the future of the state’s industry.

In a decade at the helm of the NSW racing industry, Peter V’landys has overseen some of the most tumultuous events to strike the sport.

The chief executive of Racing NSW has been recognised for his efforts to ensure the future of the state’s industry, including the delivery of a rescue package during the equine influenza (EI) outbreak, and the successful court battle over race fields legislation.

V’landys has been appointed a Member of Order of Australia (AM), something he describes as “surreal”.

The unprecedented infiltration of EI into Australia via inadequate quarantine procedures in August 2007, shut racing down in NSW and Queensland and closed the border with Victoria.

During a time of uncertainty, V’landys negotiated a $235 million rescue package with the federal government to enable stables to remain open and horses to continue to be trained, ensuring an income for the 50,000 participants.

“It meant the horses were kept fit and when racing came back we were ready to go,” V’landys said.

“I remember the day of the first meeting back so well, December 1st. It was one of the most rewarding days I have spent on a racecourse – just to see the horses back and racing.”

Then prime minister John Howard has congratulated V’landys on his AM.

“… I particularly recall the crucial advice he provided to my government at the time of the equine influenza outbreak in August 2007,” he said.

“Peter’s advice profoundly influenced my government’s response, and as a consequence what could have become a real disaster for the industry was avoided.”

V’landys led a protracted legal fight to gain product fees for the industry under race fields legislation, eventually winning the battle to ensure corporate bookmakers paid for access to NSW racing, guaranteeing the industry $60 million a year.

V’landys said he owed his work ethic to his Greek migrant parents who settled in Wollongong where he went to public school before getting his Bachelor of Commerce at Wollongong University.

“I owe it all to my mother and father,” he said.

“As migrants in a new country they worked 18 hour days to educate their children.

“I have loved racing since I was 10 years old and I am lucky to be working in the industry.”

V’landys said he would spend Australia Day with his family, savouring his achievement.

“The only thing I’ve ever won before was best and fairest with the Under-13s Wests Devils rugby league team in Wollongong,” he said.