Race to the finish

Tue, 23rd May 2017

Little Mountain’s Mick Sullivan has been the CEO of the Sunshine Coast Turf Club for 17 years. He will retire on August 31 – but you’ll still see him at the races.

Mick Sullivan
Mick Sullivan

First job?  
ANZ Bank clerk, it was in Ouyen in Victoria. My father was a friend of the bank manager and it was who you knew in those days.  

What are you currently working on?   
Ensuring that the Sunshine Coast Turf Club remains efficient and profitable prior to my retirement. We’re getting ready for Oaks Day on June 2 and the Caloundra Cup on July 1. 

Your family includes. . .  
Wife – Carmel; Daughters – Dani and Cara; Son-in-law – Daniel; Grandsons – Leo and Ned.

Do you have a nickname?   
Penguin. I had gout in both feet once. I shuffled into the pub and the boys called me penguin. 

First car?  
Holden Torana.

Favourite book?  
Moods – The Peter Moody Saga.

What are you reading now?  
The form guide – always.  

Favourite song?  
Tonight’s the Night – Rod Stewart.

Best advice you’ve been given?  
Be kind to your mum. 

How long have you lived on the Sunshine Coast?   
Seventeen years. I was originally from Victoria, I spent five years in Wagga Wagga as the CEO of the Murrumbidgee Turf Club. I’ve been involved in racing in some form nearly all my life. I started training horses when I was 12, then I worked for a bookmakers and now I’ve been a CEO for nearly 23 years. 

What is your favourite place on the Sunshine Coast?  
Corbould Park Racecourse. And it’s always nice to go for a drive to the hinterland.

Where do you take visitors when they come to the Coast?   
Alfie’s Mooo Char Bar and Domenicos on Kings. 

If you could change one thing on the Coast what would it be?   
Public transport. We need better service all round, an improved bus service and much better rail service. It’s a long way to go to Landsborough to catch a train and nowadays, the traffic on weekends can be horrific to and from Brisbane travelling here. You’ve only got to stand out and watch Caloundra Road on a Friday afternoon. 

Best day in your life?  
The day I met my wife. We met at Daisy’s Hotel in Ringwood on the Friday and I flew to London on the Sunday. We wrote to each other while I was away. We’d never been out on a date, but she picked me up at the airport and we’ve been together ever since. We’ll celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary on July 23 and I’ll be 65 on July 27. 

Can you nominate a day in your life that turned out to be a turning point?  
The phone call from Sunshine Coast Turf Club requesting I apply for the position of CEO in December 1999. We used to come here on holidays and never thought we’d be moving here.  

Your greatest regret?  
Not backing my brother’s horse Amexed, who won the Caloundra Cup last year. I was busy worrying about the national anthem being sung, rushing around and I forgot. I had to celebrate with my brother and it was a bit of a joke I didn’t back his horse.

What achievement are you most proud of?   
The financial turnaround and success of the Sunshine Coast Turf Club. It was basically insolvent. I had to look at anything and everything we could do to save money. I had to make some very tough decisions. It’s a very competitive industry and it’s been tough, but it’s been very enjoyable and I’ve had the support of very good boards and staff. 

You are happiest when?   
Relaxing with  family and friends having an ice-cold beer.

What will you do when you retire? 
Well I’m only five minutes from the Turf Club and I can’t see myself sitting around on a Sunday doing nothing. I’d also like to see a bit of Australia. I’m looking forward to sitting back and watching the new CEO John Miller continue on with the success of the club. The Sunshine Coast is continuing to expand and we’ve spent a lot of money here over the last couple of years to upgrade the facility to make it the best we can, so the place is in very good shape.

Advice to your 18-year-old self?
Look after yourself health-wise and embrace opportunities when they arise. 

Tea or coffee? 
Tea, no milk.

Both – Broncos and Collingwood.