Rockhampton Jockey Club's Kelly Suli is gearing up for a busy time.
Rockhampton Jockey Club's Kelly Suli is gearing up for a busy time. TONY McMAHON

RACING: Kelly's passion and competence helps jockey club

HORSE RACING WITH TONY MCMAHON

PASSION mixed with competence; knowledge; unselfish work ethics and blended with a genuine desire to please, make for the perfect cocktail in the hospitality industry.

Those qualities extolled with an endearing personality perfectly describe the Rockhampton Jockey Club's operations manager Kelly Suli who plays a pivotal role in the club's ever-changing business at Callaghan Park racecourse.

No longer can race club's such as the RJC survive from the sole income revenue streams attached to race meetings given the massive changes the racing industry has undertaken Australia wide.

This is where Kelly, who started part time duties with the club in 2007 as a "Girl Friday” so to speak assisting with various menial office duties has subsequently proven to be the perfect mix.

Married to horse and greyhound trainer Andrew Suli, the couple's friendship with the RJC's long time respected office manager Ruth Martin led Kelly to join the workforce at Callaghan Park.

"In 2012 I commenced work on a full-time basis with the RJC working in the administrative duties, race day duties as well as arranging sponsorships.

"One of my first duties was to attract sponsorship via the Club 100 (now Club 150) whereby businesses pay a fee of $1295 and are allocated a range of race day packages and privileges'', she explained.

It soon became apparent to the RJC's hierarchy at the time that Kelly had a natural flair for organisation akin to what takes place in the hospitality industries.

Present RJC CEO Tony Fenlon endorsed those sentiments saying yesterday: "Kelly is a massive support not only upfront but behind the scenes as well and is instrumental with so many facets of the club's operations.”

These days Kelly says barely a Saturday or weekend goes by at Callaghan Park where there is not some type of function taking place.

With its panoramic setting and first-class facilities in the modern Members Lounge, the racecourse has been transformed into one of Rockhampton's busiest and most sought-after venues.

"Weddings have become very popular as have engagement and birthday parties and all sorts of celebrations really. Not forgetting conferences as they are often held here,” she said.

Not only does Kelly organise the functions but is also on hand to oversee the catering arrangements and bar operations which are all run by the Rockhampton Jockey Club staff.

"I am very lucky to have reliable staff to service all the functions. They are very good,” she said.

Apart from her role with staff, which at times numbers well over 50, Kelly is also responsible for the ordering of the food lines for catering purposes.

This weekend Callaghan Park hosts one of its biggest events, the Big Boys Toys Expo, which will have a monster car show among the many attractions.

A massive crowd is expected to attend but Kelly is not fazed and said while such functions were challenging for her, she loved the satisfaction gained from their success.

"It is always very rewarding whether it be a small party, a huge show and of course weddings when everything goes off smoothly,” she says.

A people's person, Kelly Suli has a strong affinity for all things Rockhampton and such is her nature that she always goes that little bit extra to please while putting in the hard yards.

While she has created her own well-deserved niche at Callaghan Park through putting into place sponsorship deals and race day entertainment packages for racegoers, it all came about through her love of thoroughbred and greyhound racing.

"I really do love the racing side of the job. I really love the greyhounds as I grew up with them at Nankin as my parents had greyhounds. That was how I met Andrew (husband) through the greyhounds as well,” Kelly said.

The couple have three children Ethan, 19, Jessica, 15 and Luke, 13.

Andrew still trains both greyhounds and thoroughbred and he and Kelly have enjoyed some magic moments in both spheres.

"Andrew has won trainers premierships with the greyhounds and also a Rocky Cup with a dog called Brookside Shiraz,” Kelly recalled while widening her natural smile.

However, mention the name of the couple's comeback horse Party Pardee and the smile broadens even further and with sound reasoning.

"It was mighty thrill and a real dream when Party started in the 2016 Magic Millions Classic at the Gold Coast.

"You never forget those days,” Kelly said.

Thanks to Kelly Suli's qualities, a long list of people also share those priceless sentiments of never forgetting their special day or occasion at Callaghan Park.

Kelly is fine tuning and has plans well in hand for her busiest period of the year, the Rockhampton Winter Racing Carnival which officially opens with the Girls Grammar School Race Day on Saturday, June 15.