Veteran Track Manager Garry Foskett Receives Service Award
Garry Foskett (right) is presented with his Service Award by Tim Lambert, NZTR's team leader - racing tracks and infrastructure.
Garry Foskett has spent 40 years battling the elements on New Zealand race tracks.
His lengthy and valuable contribution to the racing industry as a track manager and supervisor was marked this week, with a New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) Service Award.
He received his award in front of his peers, at the New Zealand Racecourse Managers Conference, which was held in Napier.
Foskett’s career as a track manager began at Hawera, in the 1970s, and was followed by stints at Hastings and Cambridge, before being appointed the NZTR national venue inspector in 2007.
He has now stepped down from his full-time role, after staying on to assist his successor, Todd Treweek.
“I’ve enjoyed the job, I really have,” Foskett said. “It’s been a big challenge and money has been tight, but we have kept battling along and have completed some good projects.
“I’ve had a lot of pleasure from trying to help and work with the clubs, particularly the smaller clubs. You do get criticised, of course, but I have tried to steer clear of just telling people what to do. I have preferred to discuss it with them and work hands-on with the racecourse managers.
”It’s not an easy job [being a track manager] and it’s getting harder. There are more expectations on a racecourse manager now. But it’s been a passion of mine since I was at Hawera.”
Foskett, who was brought up in Wellington, has always been a practical man but his enthusiasm for his work has also been underpinned by a genuine love of racing.
“The old man was keen on racing and we used to go to meetings at Trentham, Tauherenikau and Otaki”.
Garry also held an owner-trainer’s licence for a time and later had some success as an owner.
He completed an engineering apprenticeship after leaving Tawa College, learning skills which have helped him as a track manager. “That experience has been so valuable, especially when doing maintenance around the track.
“We had to do everything in the old days. We would clean the grandstands, put up the tents, pick up the [discarded] tote tickets and do the painting and carpentry work.”
Foskett worked for a Lower Hutt engineering firm after completing his apprenticeship but then took over a family business – a country store- at Okaiawa, near Hawera and became immersed in the Taranaki racing community.
“The Myers’ family were good customers and it wasn’t hard to get into horses. It was a good place to muck around with horses and that was when I had my owner-trainer’s licence.”
Foskett had helped out with some “bits and pieces” at the Hawera track during this time and when the track manager’s job became available he grabbed it.
“There were 200 to 250 horses in work at Hawera in that era and some wonderful trainers, and after breakfast the place would be chokka with owner-trainers. It was a lot of fun.”
Foskett spent six years as track manager at Hawera before taking up a similar role at Hastings and soon after arriving in Hawke’s Bay supervised a reconstruction of the Hastings track.
He spent more than two decades in the Hastings role, only interrupted by “a couple of years” at Cambridge. “There were big numbers in work at Cambridge but I missed the racing aspect and took the chance to come back to Hastings.”
Foskett began working as a track advisor for NZTR on a contract basis in 2005, while still track manager at Hastings, and the national role became full time in 2007.
“One of the first jobs we did was an audit of every track in the country and that was a big project.”
Though advances in technology have made some aspects of track management easier, Foskett has no doubt that hands on management remains vital. “When I started, I learnt a lot from older guys who had been doing the job for years. You also learn as you go, just from getting out there and working on the track.”