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The acting chairman of Racing Victoria says he would happily welcome David Moodie back to his role in the top position.

Mike Hirst stepped into the job after Moodie stood aside pending an investigation into an undisclosed matter by racing integrity commissioner Sal Perna.

“I would like to think he’s capable of returning,” Hirst said.

“David is someone who works tirelessly to promote the industry in Victoria. He’s a great asset to the industry as his role as chairman.”

Hirst said as a member of the RV Board he hasn’t had any insight into the reasons that resulted in Moodie standing aside.

“If I don’t know about it, and I’m on the board, I can’t imagine anyone else knowing about it unless they are on the integrity channel,” Hirst said.

With chief executive officer Bernard Saundry stepping down at year’s end he said he hoped a replacement would be found before he finishes.

Hirst said the chief executive selection process hadn’t stalled despite the chairmanship issues.

“There’s plenty of people who have been happy to sit down and have a chat about the role and put themselves forward,” Hirst said.

“It’s a complex organisation that is going through rapid change like most business are in Australia.

“Finding the right mix of candidate for this role is a challenge.”

At RV’s annual general meeting on Monday, Hirst announced a a surplus of $27.9 million for the financial year which follows the $50 million surplus in 2014/15.

Changes to the racefields policy enabled growth in revenue from the corporate bookmaker sector of $10.5 million although revenue was down $12.6 million through the joint venture with Tabcorp.

In announcing the reduced surplus, Hirst said it came from $19.7 million of additional prize money and VOBIS bonuses and supporting the new Racing.com business.

Hirst said a prize money increase to tackle the increases announced in NSW would be something the Board would investigate.

“We will work to understand a prize money increase,” Hirst said.

“Prize money is the price that racing has if they want to attract participants and price in itself is a race to the bottom, so price also has to reflect value.

“Racing Victoria has the premium product in Australia. Our price should reflect that premium and the greater value we create.”

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