A year on from becoming one of the youngest racecourse General Managers in the country, Molly Dingwall talks to Racing Together about her career progression through The Jockey Club’s Trainee General Manager role, and her love of Carlisle Racecourse.
How it all began
As a family we always went to Points to Points and I loved nothing better than sitting on top of our old Land Rover Defender and watching the horses race past. I would say I am a little bit of an adrenaline junkie and with my passion for horses, racing became a good match!
I went to university and studied Festival and Events management and honestly didn’t really know which direction to head in. I managed a couple of bars while I was at university and I loved the social side of that but it was unsociable hours and I didn’t have a passion for it. My mum actually saw the job opening at Perth Racecourse for a Sales and Events Coordinator and I applied immediately.
I remember thinking that I didn’t want my first raceday to end
I loved everything about it: the horses; the people; the atmosphere! I also worked with an incredible team that knew how to work hard and play hard. The best thing about working at a racecourse is watching people enjoy their day. From the Stable staff cheering home their horse; the Owners’ and trainers smiles when they win, and the customers being taken along with that experience.
From watching Sam Morshead at Perth I knew that I wanted to be a racecourse General Manager. I wasn’t certain on how I would get there but that was always the long term goal. I moved to Aintree Racecourse as a Business Development Executive in 2015 and looked after Aintree’s, Haydock’s and Carlisle’s conferencing and events. I loved it but always knew I wanted to be further involved with the racing side of the business. I rode out most mornings at a local trainer’s, yard which I loved and also rode out at Gordon Elliott’s, which was incredible.
A training opportunity too good to miss
The Jockey Club offer training roles and one of them is the Trainee General Manager position. This role is only open to one person every two years. When the job came through I knew I had to apply, as it was all of my dreams coming true at once. I was so very fortunate to be offered the role and spent just over a year training to become a General Manager. It meant that I went and worked at different Jockey Club racecourses to broaden my knowledge and understanding of the job, so that in two years if the opportunity arose I could take on a General Manager role at a small course.
It was such a fascinating insight into the management and delivery of the biggest festivals in racing and how that knowledge can be applied to a smaller course.
When I was offered the General Manager position at Carlisle Racecourse, it was the proudest moment of my career so far. Carlisle is just amazing; the team here work so hard to deliver consistently great racedays throughout the year. We are a dual-purpose course so there is no respite! We not only race 26 times a year but we also stage conferences and events here on most of the other days! The best thing is that we are all so passionate about Carlisle Racecourse!
Carlisle in the Community
We have just topped the leaderboard for Jockey Club Racecourses by recycling 92% of our waste. This has been a mammoth task taken on by the team, but with each person in the team taking on responsibility to be more aware of what you can and can’t recycle, it has really helped. We have also been seen standing by the bin wagon and directing them as to which is recycling and which is general waste!
Across The Jockey Club there is a huge emphasis on reducing our energy consumption and general waste, so I am hugely proud of the team that they have been recognised as leading the charge! We are continuing to look at ways to improve this further, for example, by not having single use plastics on site.
We know we have a big part to play
As a racecourse we are aware of our impact on the local community and engage as much as possible. Our catering team use a local butcher to source our meat and our Owners and Trainers gifts are purchased to support smaller businesses in the community.
We also host an inspirational lady award at our Ladies Night in August, which celebrates all inspirational women in Carlisle. After racedays we deliver our Hospitality flowers to the local hospice so they can be enjoyed by others.
Our catering team also cooked 200 Christmas meals for young people for Carlisle Youth Zone. Carlisle Youth Zone is an amazing local charity that have a vision to create a safe and fun environment where the potential of young people is developed and fulfilled. It is imperative for us to support our local community as they support us for so many of our events.
We are looking forward to the Racing Together Community Day on the 9th May!
Perhaps a final line of advice based on my experience…
If you think that you would like a career in racing. GO FOR IT. It is the best job in the world – be brave, work hard, ask questions and embrace it, because I know for a fact that racing will embrace you!
This week is National Careers Week. If you want to know more about a career in the racing industry you can find out more by visiting Careers in Racing here.