The man who turned around the Coast’s Turf Club is retiring
IT’S the end of an era. Sunshine Coast Turf Club (SCTC) CEO Mick Sullivan is preparing himself for a well-earned retirement at the age of 65 as of August 31, after 17 years with the club.
He is the man held responsible for transforming the SCTC’s financial viability around but Mick says he’s not taking all the credit.
“I’m so proud of the whole journey and turnaround of the club’s financial situation over the 17 years… but it’s been a team effort,” Sullivan said.
“When I started in 2000, it was a great club but it was only 15 years old at the time and in a very difficult financial position. Most racing clubs have such a rich history, however the SCTC endured a lot of financial struggles being such a young club.
“Being part of the transition from a struggling, provincial club to a provincial metropolitan racing club has been great. Plus, the improvements to the facilities have been enormous.”
SCTC Chairman Peter Boyce said the humble CEO’s impact on the club’s turnaround has been remarkable and the position he is leaving the club in enables plenty more opportunities to grow.
“Mick has been there more than half the life of the club,” Boyce said.
“When he first arrived, the club was in dire financial circumstances and now he is leaving it in an exceptionally good position financially.”
Mick is handing his position over to former Albury Racing Club CEO, John Miller.
“John is walking into a great club with lots of potential,” Sullivan said.
“There’s still lots of room for growth within the club but also
The club was in dire financial circumstances and now he is leaving it in an exceptionally good position.
with the current development on the Coast with the new Sunshine Coast University Hospital and Caloundra South, there’s a lot going on and it’s exciting.”
While the future is exciting, now is the time to reflect on the outstanding career of the man responsible for getting the SCTC to where it is today.
Good friend of Mick, Les Borrack, said Mick started his
working life in 1968 with the ANZ Bank at Ouyen in Victoria. Mick was transferred to Melbourne after two years and despite a
rapid promotion to senior teller, Mick decided banking wasn’t for him. So, he set off travelling the Eastern Seaboard over a few years where he worked in hotels, labouring jobs and played football.
“Mick returned to Victoria and then joined the Leader Newspaper Group. Again, promotion saw him become credit
manager and then distribution manager for 10 newspapers,” Borrack said. “In 1976, he decided to travel overseas and he went to England, Ireland, Scotland, Belgium, France, Italy, Switzerland,
Austria, Netherlands, Spain, East and West Germany. It has been suggested that the latter was his favourite, largely because of
the beer festivals. “On his return home, he worked briefly as an office manager before being asked by Leader Newspapers to take on the role of sales manager. He held that position until 1980.”
In 1977, Mick married Carmel and together they ventured into the hospitality industry.
“In 1981 they leased the Inverleigh Hotel – about 25kms from Geelong – and their timing was impeccable as Inverleigh was on
Mick Sullivan’s encyclopaedic knowledge of racing has won him plenty of champagne over the years
the route of the biggest power line construction project in Victoria’s history,” Borrack said. “The workers were a hungry, and more importantly, thirsty
It was here Mick met Les, a regular customer of the Inverleigh
Hotel. “The three of us joined the Geelong Thoroughbred Club in 1981,” Borrack said.
“In that era, the club was very successful, and attracted guest speakers at its monthly Friday lunch meetings. Colin Hayes was the first we heard.” Borrack said one of the features of the lunch was the trivia
quiz. Mick’s encyclopaedic knowledge of racing meant they were regular winners of the champagne.
“I had always been impressed by Mick’s knowledge of racing and by his ability to get on with people, and I suggested that he consider becoming a racing club chief executive,” Borrack said.
So, he did. Mick applied for a job at the Murrumbidgee Turf Club at Wagga Wagga. It was here he implemented the 100 Club in 1996, an incredibly successful concept which he later brought with him to the Sunshine Coast in 2001.
“The 100 Club provides a great opportunity for businesses to get involved and put their brand in front of thousands of people
across Australia and overseas for a reasonable cost,” Sullivan said.
Boyce agrees the 100 Club was one of Mick’s most influential contributions to the financial stability for the SCTC and a lasting legacy. Mick was head hunted by delegates from the SCTC and in
2000 he moved to the Sunshine Coast with his wife Carmel and their two daughters to start what was about to be an
outstanding 17-year transformation of horse racing on the Sunshine Coast. “Mick’s knowledge of the ins and outs of horse racing is
second-to-none and this is what makes him an asset to the industry,” Boyce said. “He understands how everything operates from racing Queensland to the trainers, jockeys, stewards… everything. “It’s important to understand how everything works to be able
to make any headway.”
Mick said he feels very fortunate to have been able to work
and contribute to the industry he has loved his entire life. While retirement is near, Mick says he will no doubt be a regular visitor at the track.
“I will definitely be catching up with friends over the Spring Carnival season,” Sullivan said. Mick said he is also looking forward to spending more time with his two grandsons, 3-year-old Leo and 1-year-old Ned. “Obviously, I’m feeling a little nervous about retirement,”
“It’s a nervous time, you always wonder if you are doing the
right thing… but I feel it’s right. Family time is important. “I’ve left the club with great financial stability and I’m sure it will continue to grow.”
You always wonder if you are doing the right thing... but I feel it’s right. Family time is important.
Flashback to 2010: Mick Sullivan outside the construction site of the new stables at Corbould Park.
2012: Aerial shot of grounds prior to painting, refurbishment of Champagne Garden/Members area.
Mick Sullivan was looking forward to the tills overflowing after the annual Caloundra Cup race meeting back in 2007.
2012: Close up of Champagne Garden prior to refurbishment.
CEO of Sunshine Coast Turf Club Mick Sullivan is retiring on August 31 after 17 years with the club.
Action from Corbould Park, Caloundra, as jockey Nathan Thomas on Get On takes out the 2016 James Ackerman Cup over 1600m.
2004: Mick Sullivan takes a call, one of many, as the final touches are made to Corbould Park .