Reg Manning’s Jaws of Life saw victory in the first race at Woolamai at the March race meet with jockey Dylan Dean. mm291219

Horses thundering down the straight at a picnic racing event earlier this year at Woolamai and District Racing Club. mm451219

GIPPSLAND region race caller Adam Olszanski has felt an attachment to the Woolamai and District Racing Club since they gave him one of his very first opportunities to call a race when he was 16 years old.
Adam has been on the club committee for five years now, and has recently taken over the role of club secretary from stalwart Bev Carmichael, and plans to continue the good work that she has done over her time.
“The club was willing to take a risk and give me a go for one race when I was just a teenager, so I have always felt that they were so good to me, and it’s nice to be able to give something back.”
Growing up going to the races on Saturdays with his dad, Adam decided at an early age that he wanted to be a race caller.
“When I was in high school, about Year 9, every Saturday I would go to the races and I’d stand at the back of the grandstand with a stand to hold my binoculars and a tape recorder, and I’d just call pretty much to myself and the tape recorder, and did that for a couple of years every Saturday.
“Soon after that I started calling here at
Woolamai, and in a year or two I was the main caller here and continued on with that for about 18 years.”
Since then Adam has had a career full of highlights, his mainstay is calling in the Gippsland region for Racing.com but he gets the call up for the bigger races when the two senior callers are unavailable.
“I’ve called races at all the big four city tracks; Moonee Valley, Flemington, Sandown and Caulfield, I’ve called races in Sydney, in Singapore and in England, and I’ve called the Cox Plate for SEN.”
Adam has called the last 18 Woolamai Cups and although he is a little disappointed that he will not be able to call this year’s cup, Adam knows he’s serving a bigger role for the club as its new secretary.
Adam’s new position means he is the “manager of everything” at the club, including bookings, volunteer coordination and working with sponsors to support the racing industry.
He is expecting to have a very busy time on his first day of races as club secretary on Saturday, November 23, with an expected crowd of around 1700 people.
The club have recently finished major improvements to their marquee area, increasing the capacity for group bookings by around 40 per cent. In recent times they have had to turn away bigger groups because they had could not fit any more in.
Adam says the club had been focusing their works on the facilities for horses, trainers and jockeys, but now they are up to standard, the attention has turned to the public spaces like the clubroom and the toilet block.
Woolamai Race Course hosts six race days from November to March which are on the ‘picnic racing calendar’, a circuit of 11 different race tracks across the state.
Picnic racing is regarded as a more relaxed and casual day at the races, without a required dress code and race-goers can bring their own food and drinks in to enjoy while they watch the races.
“It’s a good place to get started as an interest in racing, you are nice and close on the fence, it’s like it was 50 or 100 years ago, just pure horse racing.”
Calling picnic races is a bit different to some of the bigger tracks.
Adam says he tries to avoid using racing vernacular so everyone can understand the call, and then after the finish he always tries to explain what happened in the race and why.
Adam says that the Woolamai races are not about the club or anyone making money, the club is entirely volunteer-run, and the kiosk and bar are handed over to local sports clubs and community groups as a fundraiser.
“Most of the people here are horse lovers or horse racing lovers. There are a lot of third-generation members who have grown up around the track, as well as new people to the club like me.”
There is a lot of maintenance work that goes into the track, especially maintaining the beautiful turf as well as the lawn.
Adam says he and the rest of the club are very proud of their picturesque track.
They had a working bee recently to touch up the paintwork and clear up the grounds in preparation for their first race day on Saturday, November 23.
“We are loving the rain now,” Adam says.
But he’s also keen for it to stop a couple of days before the first race.