One of New Zealand's key racing administrators has been lured away by the Vodafone Warriors.
And Ellerslie boss Cameron George says he would like to see New Zealand racing make the tough calls in order to fulfil its potential.
George is moving to the Warriors, where he has been on the board for two years, to take up the fulltime role as chief operations officer.
A lifelong rugby league fan, George will leave a big hole in New Zealand racing with his experience as a chief steward both here and in his native Australia before his move into administration at Ellerslie.
"I'll always love racing but I also love league and a chance to join the Vodafone Warriors in a role like this was too good an opportunity to pass up," he told the Herald.
George leaves with Ellerslie in a strong position, with three $1 million races programmed for next season and overall stake levels high.
"I love this place and I'm proud that the efforts of a lot of people have seen our stakes rise significantly over the last five years," says the 41-year-old.
"Our focus has been ensuring we could maximise our commercial activities off the track so we could return money to our core business - racing.
"We have been able to do that through property, the Ellerslie Events Centre, the golf driving range inside the racetrack, even things like the Pop-up Globe season we have had here and the car fair every week.
"All those things create revenue that goes back into racing."
Ellerslie has developed a reputation as one of Auckland's party hubs over summer, with its twilight meetings proving hugely successful, none more so than the Karaka Million in January. "We are very proud to be able to hold such a huge race meeting in conjunction with New Zealand Bloodstock and I'm thrilled knowing how big it is going to be next season."
George also takes pride in the consistency of Ellerslie's racing surface, especially during the busy summer season when some tracks around the country are struggling.
But after a decade at the top of New Zealand racing, George is adamant tough decisions need to be made.
"We need strong leadership now more than ever, people who can make the big calls.
"I think racing has been guilty for too long as just going along with what we have always done.
"Anything that can improve the industry should be open to discussion and put on the table.
"And we need to get the funding model right so money can be invested in the areas where it will generate the best returns for the whole industry."
ARC financial officer Tim Gillespie has been announced as acting chief executive from the date of Cameron's departure.