Trotting to awards win

IT TAKES a lot of time and commitment to prepare a harness racing meeting, and it's not very often the people behind the scenes of it all are appreciated.

During the Swan Hill Pacing Cup, while racegoers were enjoying all the festivities of the horses, the people and celebrities, there was one lady working tirelessly to make sure proceedings went accordingly.

Swan Hill Trotting Club manager Marnya Watson spent all night running around, organising presentations, undertaking media duties and shuffling some of the biggest names to where they needed to be.

Marnya Watson (flanked by Gerard Moloney and Noel Watson) won the the Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year award on Sunday night. Picture supplied.

Marnya Watson (flanked by Gerard Moloney and Noel Watson) won the the Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year award on Sunday night. Picture supplied.

This is not just a once-off effort for her, as she spends countless hours everyday to promote and improve the club, including making calls, organising media commitments and balancing books.

It was a hectic week for her and the club, holding 12-hour working bees throughout in preparation for their biggest race of the year.

But when the night finished and some of the patrons continued on with their celebrations, she and the team hit the hay early as they prepared to head out early in the morning.

So at 9am she hopped in the car and, after dropping her two kids, Elliott and Hugh, off to her sister's place, headed to the Crown Casino in Melbourne for Harness Racing Victoria's Awards Night.

Throughout the week, Watson's nerves were well intact, having other priorities in her mind, but when walking the red carpet and experiencing all the gilts and glamour of the night, things quickly changed.

"I was a lot more nervous than I thought I would be. I was quite anxious. I had been so caught up in the cup, I hadn't really paid much attention to it prior," Watson said.

"But when I got there, I found out that I was really quite jittery."

There were a handful of secretaries in the running for the award, including Geelong manager Paul Prout, who has given her wise words of wisdom throughout her short career — but she could not imagine the student becoming the master at the time.

"He and I are really good mates as well. He's a big club and has got a few more resources than us — as a mid sized club," she said.

"When I started, he was a bit of a mentor — and still is to me — so being up against him made me feel I was no chance because I thought he was a shoe in."

But when her name was called, she just simply couldn't believe it.

"I was really shocked because I was up against some really big names," she said.

It was there where Watson was recognised by the entire industry for the time she invests into the club, winning the Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year award.

Her and some fellow committee members partied long into the night among the streets of Melbourne.

As Marnya explained, it wasn't just a win for her, but for the whole club who have finally got something to showcase for the blood, sweat and tears.

"We've had quite a few challenges we've been dealing in the last five years and things that we're all trying to overcome and work though," she said. 

"We've got some really great things at that race track. So a bit of boost for all their morale. It's not a one-man band, it's a group effort."

She could not emphasise enough the amount of hours the whole committee donate to keep the club operational.

"My committee are all in a volunteer basis, and they are absolutely amazing. The amount of hours they put in and it's just purely for the love of the sport and nothing more," she said. 

"My president Gerard (Moloney) and particularly vice-president Noel Watson, they put in countless hours into running the club. 

"All the committee donate their time to organising a race meeting — whether that be in the numbers room, on the track, upstairs taking care of people or one of our other rooms running something. Without them, the club wouldn't run. They're the backbone."

But there was a time where Marnya never thought she would be in this position.

After her maternity leave a couple of years ago, she was struggling to find a job that could cater for her personal life.

Studying a marketing degree and juggling two kids at home, Marnya managed to find the part-time job that both catered for her needs and enticed her interests, and with such a supportive committee, she's continuing to thank them back in spades.

"I've got an amazing committee that are really flexible with me. That's my first hurdle," she said.

"It's not easy to find a kind of job where you can use business acumen and my passion is in business marketing, in a part time capacity that's really flexible where I can pick up and drop off. 

"It's a really brilliant committee that entrusts me to get the work that I need to do done in the hours that I can."

But she also could not have achieved any of this without her husband Jeremy.

"He's amazing. He is one of the reasons I am where I am today. He just does so much to help me out at home," she said.

Never one to miss an opportunity to do more work, she also has a message for all potential racegoers.

"If anyone hasn't been to the trots in a while, it's a great time to come back," she said.

The next race meeting in Swan Hill is Melbourne Cup night.

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