GETTING TO KNOW MICHAEL WOOD
October 13, 2022
TAB Everest Day is the biggest day of racing at Royal Randwick.
Months of preparation has ensured the main stage is set to host the world’s richest race on turf along with a huge feature 10-race program.
Royal Randwick Racecourse Manager Michael Wood and his team are responsible for the racing surface, training tracks and gardens and landscaping right across Royal Randwick.
Ahead of TAB Everest Day we caught up with Michael to find out a little bit more about him and what the big day involves.
What’s your background on how you got to today looking after this world-famous racecourse?
I began my first ever job as an Apprentice Greenkeeper through a company my cousin worked for. I only took the job because my parents wanted me out of the house. However, I’ve always been a sports-orientated person (mainly playing soccer), and without being able to play it professionally, being involved in sports turf has allowed me to maintain that link to what I enjoyed.
Throughout my apprenticeship, I maintained many different facets of the sports turf industry from Private School Rugby and soccer ovals to cricket wickets and lawn tennis courts. This kept things interesting, however I had an interest in racing from around 18, so as soon as my apprenticeship was finished, I applied and began a role at Warwick Farm Racecourse for the Australian Jockey Club. After working there for 18 months I wanted to gain experience in maintaining my own facility, so I took up a role as the Grounds Manager for a small stadium and club facility. This was extremely beneficial in allowing me to step into the Assistant Racecourse Manager role at Canterbury Park Racecourse for the Australian Turf Club, some 9 years ago.
Five years ago, I became the Assistant Racecourse Manager at Royal Randwick, where I have gained essential understandings of racing and the requirements to fulfill such a role. Then only 3 years ago I have stepped into the Royal Randwick Racecourse Manager role.
What inspires you in your role?
The thing that inspires me in this role is the prestige that comes with Royal Randwick and the way it’s looked upon by people who come to the racecourse. It inspires me to be better, improve aesthetics, the performance of the tracks and overall standards to a point where people are “wowed’’.
Favourite part of your job?
Planning! I love a well-executed plan and then the pay off on a Carnival race day, where all the planning we put in comes off and Royal Randwick looks spectacular from the tracks to the gardens and all the little extras in betwees. It’s a proud and privileged feeling walking around the grounds on those days, knowing how much work went into it and seeing how talented my staff are to execute to that standard.
Where does your passion for racecourse management come from?
It’s an exciting and busy industry to be in with so many moving parts. I enjoy seeing our healthy turf and the majestic horses. It’s a very challenging element of sports turf compared to most others due to the damaged inflicted upon it, so I enjoy that challenge of being able to have it repaired, recover, and to respond every time we go around.
What do you love most about the Sydney Everest Carnival?
The atmosphere – leading in feature race winners off the track, seeing the emotion from the jockeys and hearing the roar of the crowd gives me chills.
What does TAB Everest Day look like for you?
- 5am- Arrive at Royal Randwick
- 5:30am- Track Inspection
- 6:30- Radio Interviews
- 7:30- Breakfast and discuss plan for day with leadership team
- 8am- Get ready for the day
- 8:15am Staff morning briefing around roles and responsibilities for the day
- 8:30am- Radio and TV Interviews
- 10:30am- Track Inspection with RNSW Stewards
- 10:45am- Final inspection of Royal Randwick Grounds
- 12:30pm- Race 1
- 12:35pm Post race 1 inspection with RNSW Stewards
- Raceday- Monitor all operations of race day
- Lead in The TAB Everest Winner (Highlight)
- Last race- 6:10pm
- 6:40pm- Relax with staff who do an enormous job
Finally, what advice to aspiring people in your industry?
- Be resilient, there are plenty of tough days, but the good certainly outweighs the bad.
- For anyone wanting to be a racecourse manager, pressure is a privilege. At times, (especially this year being the wettest on record), there is plenty of pressure. However, stay focused and when you come out the other side, it’s even more satisfying.
- You’re only as good as the last one you put up. Keeps me grounded after a good result.
- If you don’t ask you don’t get.
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