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About Us

The Queensland Off-The-Track Board (QOTT Board) was established as a result of the Martin Inquiry report titled ‘Inquiry into animal cruelty in the management of retired Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses in Queensland’.

The Queensland Government fully supported, or supported in principle, all 55 recommendations made by the Martin Inquiry, including the establishment of a Queensland Off-The-Track Program (QOTT Program).

The QOTT Board has been established to operate and manage the QOTT Program and is responsible for all decisions, policies, programs and reporting relating to the retirement of horses from racing and breeding activities in Queensland.



Queensland Off-The-Track Board Chair

Ms Sharon Cowden

Sharon Cowden is the inaugural independent Chairperson of the Queensland Off-The-Track Board.  She is former Senior Executive with the Australian Federal Police and Executive Director of Empius  P/L. She has had a life-time passion for horses. 

She brings to the QOTT Board strong people and organisational management skills and experience in implementation and program governance. She complements her practical experience with relevant tertiary academic qualifications. Her focus is to strategically oversee the inception of a world-class animal care program for Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses in Queensland and to deliver on the Martin Inquiry recommendations within the remit of the QOTT Board.





Queensland Off-The-Track Board


Mr Brendan Parnell, Chief Executive Officer, Racing Queensland

Brendan Parnell has been at the helm of Racing Queensland since his appointment in mid 2018.

Prior to joining RQ, Brendan held the position of Chief Operating Officer, Wagering, of Tatts Group, which operated UBET prior to Tatts Group’s merger with Tabcorp in December 2017.

He also held senior roles at Tabcorp and Sky Channel in international wagering and broadcast media.

Brendan has a lifelong love of horses, Thoroughbred breeding and racing which began during his upbringing in rural Queensland.



Ms Catherine Collier, Representative, Equestrian Queensland

Cathi Collier is an experienced executive and non-executive director who has worked in government, the media, commercial and not for profit sectors. She has held senior executive roles in the Queensland and Australian governments, worked as a newspaper journalist and managed small businesses. Cathi has worked across a diverse range of portfolios including tourism, resources, energy, defence, communications, aviation, health, and education. 

Cathi has been actively involved in the development and governance of Equestrian Queensland (EQ), the peak body for the administration of equestrian sports in Queensland, serving as a director of the board for seven years, including two years as vice-chair. EQ represents 15,000 participants across the Olympic sports of dressage, eventing, showjumping and para equestrian, along with show horse, vaulting, carriage driving and interschool sports. Cathi also served as a director of the Board of Equestrian Australia in 2020.



Mr Basil Nolan Snr, President, Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland Association

Basil Nolan Snr has been both a member and President of numerous racing and breeding boards during his life-long career in the Queensland racing industry. He has served on the Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland Association since 1969, only five years after joining his parents in the operation of their stud, Raheen, which they established at Warwick in 1957. It is one of Queensland’s oldest and most respected Thoroughbred studs and is a true ‘family business’.

Basil was President of the TBQA 1980-1991 and returned to that role in 2010. He has served on the board of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia since 2005 and was appointed President in 2014. Basil was one of the founding members of the Queensland Principal Club (QPC) and served on that board for three years from its inception. He was also a delegate to the Australian Bloodhorse Breeders for 13 years.



Dr Holly Lewis BVSc MANZCVSc (Equine Med & Surgery) CMAVA, President, Equine Veterinarians Australia


Holly graduated from the University of Sydney in 1998. Following several years working in mixed practice interstate and in the United Kingdom she returned to her hometown of Adelaide. Holly joined the Morphettville Equine Clinic in June 2008. Holly was awarded her memberships to the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists in Equine Medicine in July 2010 and Equine Surgery in July 2012. Her equine medicine interests include respiratory, gastrointestinal disease and intensive care. She also has extensive experience in racetrack and performance work with a special interest in lameness and respiratory issues. She is an official race day veterinarian, and she is an Official FEI veterinarian regularly attending Adelaide Horse Trials and major interstate FEI horse events. She is currently president of Equine Veterinarians Australia. She has been a director of Horsemed SA since 2012. Her interests outside of work include show jumping, polo, snow skiing and travel.



Mr Daren Garrard, President, BOTRA Queensland

From his early years, Daren Garrard has been passionate about horses and everything Harness Racing.

He has had a long and proud association with the sport. Daren currently trains, owns and breeds Standardbreds.

Daren is Director of Garrard’s Horse and Hound – a business that proudly sponsors Harness Racing and supports the industry and its participants.

He has dedicated his life to the sport, and his support and knowledge of Harness Racing will help ensure its success well into the future.




Mr Kelly Schweida, Vice-President, Australian Trainers Association - QLD Branch

Kelly Schweida has been active in the racing industry since 1971, giving him 50 years of experience. He started his career as an apprentice jockey and moved into training in 1981 when he took out a trainers license.Kelly has had great local success with his horses, including training two Group 1 winners, as well as international success. Kelly has always been a supporter of ensuring retired racehorses have a good life once their racing careers are over, which is why he joined the Queensland-Off-The-Track Board.



Mr Cameron Partington, Representative, Thoroughbred Alliance

Cameron Partington grew up on Sunshine Coast, with his family connection to horse racing being through jockey Sid Curran, Toowoomba Turf Club Chairman of many years Linsley Thorpe and trainer/ breeder Deb Handford. Cameron worked for trainer Les Ross for four years from 2007-2010 as his Foreman and Racing Manager and has been the State Executive (Qld) of the Australian Trainers Association since 2009.

A Jockey Manager in Queensland for the past 10 years, Cameron currently manages Jim Byrne, Mark Du Plessis and Michael Rodd. Cameron is the current spokesperson of the Thoroughbred Alliance in Queensland on behalf of participants, trainers, jockeys, breeders and owners.



Dr Mandy Paterson BVSc (Honours), PhD, MEd, Principal Scientist, RSPCA Queensland

Mandy has held the position of Principal Scientist, RSPCA Qld, for 12 years. She has a keen interest in animal welfare, policy development, exhibited animals, shelter animal management, wildlife and many other areas within the RSPCA. She represents the RSPCA on government committees including kangaroo management, injured koala care and Fraser Island dingoes, just to name a few.

Mandy is also involved in research in collaboration with the University of Queensland (UQ) and Sunshine Coast University, and teaches veterinary science students. She holds the position of Adjunct Senior Fellow at the UQ Veterinary School. Mandy serves on the board of ANZCCART and the QOTT, and is a Deputy Editor-in-Chief for the journal Animals.



Queensland Off-The-Track Program Administration Assistant

Jo Johnson

Jo’s knowledge and experience of both the equestrian and racing industries, combined with her genuine commitment, care and desire to advocate on behalf of Standardbred and Thoroughbred aftercare, makes her a great asset to the Queensland Off-The-Track Program.

Personally, Jo has owned horses and been involved in the domestic horse community her whole life. Professionally, following many years of administrative experience with Local Government, Jo worked as Office Manager for Glen Haven Park in 2009/10 when they procured, trained and transported 38 horses to Singapore for the Youth Olympic Games. She then worked for seven years with Inglis as Content and Communications Manager for the Horsezone website. Since 2017 Jo has has been in marketing and ownership at Racing Queensland, and is now thrilled with this opportunity to support the QOTT Program.