Major coup for Coffs Harbour racing

WHEN Drew Cookson begins his new role of racecourse manager in Coffs Harbour, not only will he be keen to implement fresh ideas but he'll be relying on a wealth of experience in the established staff.

"One of the boys has been here 30 years," he said gazing across his new domain.

"He knows every blade of grass and where every pipe is buried.

"Knowledge like that is pure gold for someone coming in."

After a five year apprenticeship with Clarence River Jockey Club, Cookson's employment is seen as a major coup for the Coffs club.

With Asian racing associations attempting to poach every Australian with talent it's unusual he sees staying local as an asset on his resume.

"Grafton may have the tradition but Coffs Harbour is the future," he says.

"Now the club has beaten it's period of problems the market forces of population growth and tourist potential will ensure success.

"I want to be part of that."

Like a publican who's a teetotaller, Cookson entered the racing industry with little knowledge of the sport.

"Starting out, my job was as a greenkeeper, not an expert on racing," he laughed.

"But the racing bug soon bites.

"You pick things up and soon you're hungry for more."

There won't be a whirlwind makeover of the racecourse once Cookson takes up his post on October 4.

"I want to get a feel for the place and soak up everyone's knowledge," he said.

"The winning post may get a fresh coat of paint but in the immediate period it's all about learning."

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