Lloyd Patrick Lalor (born 1934) filled the demanding job of chief racing steward in Victoria with distinction for seventeen years. The official title was Victoria Racing Club (VRC) Chairman of Stipendiary Stewards. In practice the role was part policeman, part umpire, part diplomat: his job was to uphold the rules of racing and insist on safety and fairness to all.
Lalor was one of ten children, and grew up at Healesville, Victoria. He rode as an amateur for ten years from 1949, holding an owner-trainer’s permit for three years before joining the Healesville Amateur Racing Club committee in 1959. His tenure here as club steward was excellent grounding for his future career with the VRC.
In 1963 Lalor joined the stewards’ panel at the VRC, becoming Deputy Chairman of Stewards under Jim Ahern in 1971 before taking on the prestigious role of Chairman from 1980. Throughout Lalor’s time in office, the VRC was responsible for overseeing racing integrity throughout Victoria.
Whilst in office, Pat Lalor was answerable to the VRC committee and, from 1984, also to an independent judicial Racing Appeals Tribunal.
He was regularly in the public eye and presided with fine judgement over many controversial racing enquiries. Enquires ranged from hearing racing protests on the spot – including in high profile races such as the Caulfield and Melbourne Cups and Cox Pate – to dealing with suspensions and disqualifications. Furthermore, he was responsible for ruling on track conditions and matters affecting the safety of jockeys and horses. Rough and dangerous riding was a particular aversion and he could hand down strong penalties even to the biggest names in racing without fear or favour.
Lalor was dignified and accessible to the press, opening official enquiries to public scrutiny wherever possible. He was a wise adviser to jockeys and trainers and mentored younger stewards including his successor, Des Gleeson. Several of his proteges proceeded to positions of authority in other jurisdictions in Australian and overseas, including Hugh Donovan, John Schreck, Ray Murrihy, Michael Carrigg, David Cleghorn and Lindsay Lane.
After retirement Pat Lalor returned to the committee at Healesville and is credited with revitalising the fortunes of the popular picnic club. In addition he served for seven years on the committee of the Cranbourne Turf Club and was a director of the Victorian Country Racing Council, quietly continuing a lifetime of service to Australian racing.
“We are lucky indeed to not only have Australia's best stipendiary steward, but the world's best racing detective.” Sir Rupert Steele