Tomorrow’s Echuca Racing Club Melbourne Cup day meet will be the last for chief executive officer Garry Armstrong.By Geordie Cowan
Garry Armstrong has a long history with Echuca Racing Club, but his impending move to Rockhampton Jockey Club has him excited about the new chapter in his life.
First joining the ERC committee in 1988, Armstrong has been involved with the club for ‘‘20-odd years’’ and been its chief executive officer since March 2009.
But it is time for the 48-year-old to take the next step in his career.
Tomorrow’s meet at Echuca will be his last in charge before he becomes the chief executive officer of RJC at Callaghan Park in December.
Armstrong, who also spent a year as chief executive officer at Tatura and Shepparton Racing Club, said although the move would be hard, it was the right decision to make after a successful stint at Echuca.
‘‘The decision I took with my wife four years ago was that this would be my career move, to go into racing and racing administration,’’ he said.
‘‘The natural progression is to try and administer at a higher level or a bigger club.
‘‘I’ve had three really good years here. We’ve achieved a fair bit.’’
Armstrong said he was looking forward to the challenge of being responsible for one of the ‘‘top 10 clubs in Queensland’’ in terms of size and business and he expected it to be an expansion on his role at Echuca.
‘‘It’s part of the challenge and part of the progression,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a bigger role in there’s more race meetings, there’s bigger staff and they have a function centre that is very active.
‘‘They are also involved in a thoroughbred two-year-old sale and then have a feature race that comes up in their carnival in June.
‘‘It was probably that next step up in opportunity within the industry.’’
Tomorrow’s meet — the club’s biggest each year, with a crowd of between 6000 to 7000 expected — will cap off what has been a thriving time in the club’s history, combining industry awards with a slow and progressive changing of philosophies.
In Armstrong’s first full year in charge at Echuca, it was named the Country Racing Victoria club of the year and was nominated for the award the next two years.
‘‘We showed it wasn’t a fluke by being able to replicate that in the next two seasons,’’ he said.
Although the accolades were significant, it was the club’s increasing involvement with the district community which was a real highlight, Armstrong said.
‘‘I have been really, really happy with the way we have been able to re-engage with the local community,’’ he said.
‘‘Going back into town and dealing with local businesses.
‘‘I think we’ve really been able to increase the profile of the race club through the town and through the region.
‘‘I think we’ve got a pretty good base to continue to build.
‘‘I’m pretty comfortable that I’ve left the club in a far stronger position than what it was four years ago.’’
With the end of his time at ERC rapidly approaching, Armstrong said he had not had time to think about it as the club prepared for Melbourne Cup day, which was good in a way.
‘‘It’s bittersweet,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ve really, really enjoyed my role at the club.
‘‘I’ve had fantastic support from the committee and the people of Echuca-Moama and the sponsors have forged some pretty strong bonds there as well.
‘‘As far as I’m concerned they’re really good things for the club and the town and all those bonds have been strengthened down the line.’’
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