Aren’t we blessed with some wonderful race callers in Queensland.
Chris Barsby at the trots is up there with anyone in the world, and here in Australia’s he’s second only to world’s best, the Maestro from the West, Richard Bell, and that it is no knock at all.
Over at the greyhounds we’re just spoiled for choices.
Johnny Brasch – who is a shining inspiration to any kid with a disability who’s told who can’t do something – is the number 1 of the 3 rippers we have up here, without question. His Paul Ambrosoli-inspired style of calling is beloved by all in the game, and his knowledge of, and love for, the dogs is beyond compare.
Calling the greys isn’t a job for Johnny, it’s a way of life. We’re so humbled and privileged to have him.
Number 2 caller Anthony Jeffers is pretty damn good too.
I know Jeffers can be a bit pedantic and sometimes get too hung up on a dog or a thing, but I’ve known him since we worked together at the Nundah dole office in our late teens, and he’s always been like that. Anthony’s has never wanted to be a Tony, and he’s a ping pong man for God’s sake, they’re different to footy, cricket or b/ball men like you and I.
It doesn’t make them any better or worse though, just different, and in many ways Anthony J’s array of personal quirks just adds to the listener’s appreciation of his skill as a caller. AJ is a great bloke, and he does a brilliant job.
The young gun star of Australian thoroughbred calling Josh Fleming is a gem too. He may have a tendency to sometimes drift off tangent mid-race, but that’s only because his mind is working so quick that he talk, think and remember 18 sets of silks and names of the horses whose jocks are carrying them, all at the same time. He’s a pleasure to listen to, and I’m told by everyone who has met him that he’s also a gentleman and wonderful young man.
Yes, we are privileged alright, and I’ve yet to hear anyone other than odd village idiot say that they wish we didn’t have them.
There is one thing they all share too, and that is guts to have a go in a tight photo, and the skill to 98 times out of 100 get it right, or in the case of Chris Barsby and Bunny Brasch, a hundred percent of the time.
Which brings to the topic of David Fowler, who I affectionately call the Bantam, the number 2 caller at the gallops and 4th ranked in the State, although probably only because Jeffers has no interest in horses or calling them, other than for a few extra quid.
The Bantam could be a great caller too.
He almost is.
How often do you hear him mix up runners, or call the wrong horse? Never. He’s a thorough professional who spends as much time studying the form across two codes (races and trots) than each of the others does on their one. That David does it because he’s a compulsive gambler, and likes to handicap himself by handicapping his own form, is neither here nor there. The point is that he knows the horses he’s calling backwards, and understands their racing patterns and form.
The Bantam’s also smart when he’s not being stupid, and very witty when he’s not trying to impersonate Alan Jones, so he has all the elements that a man needs to become a great race caller, and his personal life is well-suited to the demands of the trade.
So why, with all these positive attributes, isn’t David any longer one of the Queensland’s pre-eminent callers?
The answer is simple.
He is too conservative, and lacks ticker.
Did you happen to hear his and Josh Fleming’s respective calls of the Straddie?
It ended in a real tight photo, but not so tight that a bloke like me couldn’t pick the result off the live vision, from the naked eye.
Josh Fleming could too. He had a crack, and as usual got it right.
The poor old Bantam though, he just sat on the fence, and called it a four way go.
Those dependent on the radio for their calls had to wait for the judges verdict before they had any idea which one had won.
That’s the difference between the good and the great.
The Straddie call said it all.