Racing vision for the people
POLLY Wilson is determined to turn the Coffs Harbour Racing Club into a club 'for the people'.
She has made history by becoming the first woman to chair the board, while Polly, Janene Glenn and Christine Cameron are the first females to ever hold board positions there.
Polly ? a thoroughbred horse breeder and cattle breeder ? settled in Coffs Harbour 18 months ago.
"I used to come up here for the Coffs Cup meeting and then I started to look for property. I ended up buying at Friday Creek," Polly said.
"I heard the club was having a few difficulties and I thought my background in the banking, finance and corporate sectors and my passion for racing could be used at the club.
"My involvement in the racing industry stemmed from my dad, who was a committeeman at the Gunnedah Jockey Club, so I was brought up with it.
"I bought a brood mare and began breeding thoroughbreds."
Polly was one of many racegoers unhappy with the $20 entry to Coffs Cup Day two years ago, and she welcomed the $5 reduction last year.
She said the club needed to focus on attracting people to the facility and that one of the priorities would be airconditioning in the public bar area.
"I think the past committee had the right vision in wanting to be the premier club in country NSW," she said.
"They've put all the right infrastructure in place, but I think they wanted to do things too quickly.
"I'll stick with their vision. I want to bring the people of Coffs Harbour back into racing and make it more community-based, where people can enjoy themselves at an entertaining venue.
"Ultimately, we believe we have all the right infrastructure in place ? we've got one of the best function centres in the city and we've got a fantastic track now with no bias.
"There is preliminary talk about an equine hospital here. If that happens, together with everything else, with the right management practices in place, within two or three years we should be one of the premier clubs."
Polly said there was a good relationship between the board and the receivers ? Nambucca River Jockey Club ? appointed last year amid financial woe.
"They're doing a fantastic job and we can learn a lot from them in their success at Bowraville in making it a community-based club," she said.
"We've turned the corner ? we've paid off some of the ma- jor creditors and we're heading towards the black.
"The receivers can stay as long as they like because they're doing such a good job."
Polly said the board, now comprising three women and four men, was a good mix of the sexes and people with business nous.
"My view is we run the club as a business and build on what we have to make it a premier club." The next race meeting is on March 7.