By Sam Watson
AFTER 11 years at the Stony Creek Racing Club, CEO Sarah Wolf is moving on at the end of July.
Wolf joined the club as the business manager ahead of the 2009/10 racing season, when Ralph Gallagher was CEO in a voluntary position.
Then when Gallagher stepped down in 2015, she stepped up to the plate.
Wolf, 45, originally came from Melbourne where she worked for an event and audio-visual production company.
Before her role in Melbourne, Wolf completed a double degree in primary and secondary teaching but then when she had her daughter, who is now 19, she decided that wasn’t the career path for her.
But she was never expecting to end up in horse racing.
“When we moved down it was a classical tree-change decision,” Wolf said.
“I realised as a single parent I was working all the time and not spending enough time with my daughter.
“So, in eight and a half weeks, with a discussion with my mother, we sold a house, bought a house and moved.”
When she arrived in Meeniyan, Wolf wanted a job that gave her a bit of flexibility, where she could still have time to be a mum.
And she landed at the Stony Creek Racing Club.
In her 11 years and 12 race seasons, Wolf has had a fantastic time at the club, and she now calls it her fourth baby, after her daughter and two cats.
“I’ve made a lot of great friends and met some fantastic people over the years,” Wolf said.
“Sometimes the racing industry gets a bad rap, but it really is a great family and a great career path for whatever field you go into because there’s much support behind you.
“Not only have we got the committee here, who’s all volunteer-based, but we’ve also got Country Racing and Racing Victoria.”
“And there’s also the trainers’ association and jockeys’ association and if you ever need to reach out, they’re there.
“I don’t know many places of employment where you have such varied stakeholders and then you add the community aspect as well.”
Wolf, who also ran Bairnsdale Racing Club for 18 months, is extremely grateful for the support she’s received from the community and for the way they’ve been able to make race days so lively.
And she also thanked the team underneath her at the club.
“We’re a really small team, and we’re all part-time so it’s pretty amazing when you think about what we manage to bring together on race days and give back to the community.”
When Wolf thinks back on some of her proudest achievements, the new stalls at the club sit right up there.
“I worked on the stalls project for five years and they’ve come up beautifully,” Wolf said.
But it isn’t just the stalls that have been worked on.
“I suppose if you look around the club and I look back to what it was like when I first started, there’s been lots of little renovations on the go here and there.”
And she’s put in some more capital works applications that will hopefully see some more upgrades finished off.
A couple of months ago, Wolf and her co-workers had the chance to reflect on all that’s happened in the last 10 years when they met at the Meeniyan Hotel.
“It was an end of season break up dinner but also an early goodbye dinner for me,” Wolf said.
“It was nice to just sit there and see the camaraderie, but also to listen to stories from people who have been there a really long time.
“Just to hear the pride from them as to how the clubs grown, that’s a memory I’ll keep for quite a while.”
Wolf hasn’t yet settled on what she’ll do once she finishes at the end of July.
“I don’t have another job lined up, so at the moment anything’s an option.
“We’ll be moving somewhere, but we really haven’t made any firm decisions.
“I’ve loved my time at the racing club, but I’ve achieved everything I can do there, and it’s now time to find a new challenge.”
But Sarah said she’ll keep a keen eye on the goings-on at the club.
“I’m excited to see where a new club manager can take it and hopefully keep on building on the community involvement and on our standing in the racing industry as one of the premier racetracks.”
And for anyone who’s thinking about taking over her role, Sarah had a few words of advice.
“You can expect challenges because it certainly isn’t a dull job.”
“You’ve gotta be able to multi-task because at the end of the day, you’re the central person that makes everything happen for a race day.
“As long as you’ve got strong communication skills, you’ll be fine in the role.”