A FAMILIAR face will be leaving South West Queensland race tracks next month when Toowoomba-based steward Rion Hitchener takes up his next career challenge.
Hitchener has accepted a chief steward role in North Queensland where he'll be based in Townsville.
The 26-year-old is due to leave the Downs after the November 17 Roma Cup meeting.
Hitchener's promotion follows a lengthy stint at Racing Queensland's Toowoomba office where the former St Mary's College student began part-time work when he was 15 years old.
For the last four years he has been the region's deputy chief steward, working for the last two years with chief steward Martin Knibbs.
Hitchener said the decision to leave his home-town and region which gave him his start in racing was not an easy one, but the opportunity to advance his career was an inviting one.
"The opportunity to take up a chief steward role was just too hard to knock back," Hitchener said.
"It's a significant move and naturally there are some sacrifices that you have to make.
"But I'm lucky I've got a very supportive wife who is 100 per cent behind us making the move."
Hitchener and his wife Belle have two daughters, Jasmine and Abbie.
"Our oldest daughter Jasmine is the keenest of all to move so everything is very positive."
Hitchener's major role will be officiating at midweek Townsville TAB meetings.
His post also covers TAB racing in Mackay and country racing from Laura to Mt Isa.