John Lingard probes the back-stabbing and double-dealing taking place behind the closed doors of race broadcaster Sky Channel, as the race track is swept with rumours that deposed Brisbane caller David ‘Dunno in a Photo’ Fowler may be about to do a Lazarus and send hism conqueror Josh Fleming back to the bush.
WILL FOWLER SOON TAKEOVER AS NO 1 RACECALLER IN BRISBANE WITH FLEMING STOOD ASIDE AS PART OF SKY DEAL WITH THE BRC?
LETSGOHORSERACING has been reliably informed that Josh Fleming will be replaced by David Fowler as the No 1 race-caller at Eagle Farm and Doomben as part of the new SKY deal with the Brisbane Racing Club.
To the punting public the decision will come as a surprise with Fleming the golden boy of the race-calling ranks on the rise since taking over at SKY from the retiring Alan Thomas in December 2015.
But those who know the politics of racing in Queensland will not be shocked that Fowler, rumored to be facing an uncertain future with Radio TAB, would be thrown a lifeline by Queensland’s No 1 club, the BRC.
Fleming, who grew up in the Queensland outback, doesn’t get involved in the politics of racing – just does a wonderful job as a caller and those who follow racing in Queensland regard him as undisputedly the No 1 broadcaster of the sport.
Fowler, on the other hand, who many would agree knows where his bread is buttered, has been a loyal supporter of the BRC and can claim some high profile directors and officials as his friends. No doubt he has campaigned strongly behind the scenes for the job.
Fleming, who we are reliably informed will cop this setback on the chin, will continue to be employed by SKY in to call race meetings outside of Brisbane in south-east Queensland. Those close to him say he would be the last to even contemplate that he has been ‘knifed in the back’ as some are suggesting.
He has been calling country and provincial race meetings in NSW for SKY Racing since 2003 after winning the John Tapp Scholarship and is an extremely popular young family man.
At the time of his appointment to replace Alan Thomas, Fleming said: “It’s a dream come true to be given this role. I’m a Queensland boy and can’t wait to start in late December. I called Stradbroke’s when I was practising to be a race caller. This is incredible.
“Alan Thomas has not only been a mentor but a close friend. To replace him as SKY’S number one Queensland caller is very special.”
Fowler, who gained national publicity when he was but a boy calling races standing on a butter-box at the Mingela Picnics in North Queensland, has reached the top of his profession but many believe – now edging closer to retirement – his best days are well and truly behind him.
Insiders question whether there was some influence in the decision to provide Fowler with an extension to his working life as a broadcaster which was looking pretty shaky with major redundancies on the way at Radio 4TAB. We will let you be the judge whether ‘the Bantam’s’ friendship with RQ CEO Brendan Parnell (formerly a boss at SKY) played a part.
Perhaps it was a reward for his backing of the sale of Albion Park (where he is Club Chairman despite the once-proud harness club going downhill faster than an out-of-control roller-coaster both financially and crowd-wide). This sale, which was supported by RQ and the Government, led to a reported major fall-out between Fowler and harness king Kevin Seymour.
For the time being Fleming’s dream may have become a nightmare – largely because he doesn’t have the political pull in an industry where good blokes run last. But it will only be temporary – times change, so do committees and their lackeys (there are plenty of those at the BRC who are mates of Fowler).
Hopefully the ‘suck up and survive’ mentality that has permeated the racing media in Queensland will one day be exterminated. But we won’t be holding our breath for that to happen.
EDITOR’S NOTE: LGHR would welcome an explanation from the BRC, RQ or SKY concerning what on the surface appears to be disgraceful treatment of the best race-caller in Queensland. We also welcome readers to submit their thoughts on this controversial issue.
If the findings of Lucky’s research are true – and we have no reason to doubt that they are not – then the career exectution of Josh Fleming will be one of the most despicable acts seen in Queensland racing for a long, long time.
Josh is a very popular member of the racing fraternity, who is universally liked and respected. He is very good caller, and will only get better with age, whereas Fowler is only competent at best. His limited repertoire of catch phrases long ago wore thin with punters, and his chronic refusal to have a crack in photos is a universal annoyance to punters, particularly those listening to his calls on the radio without any vision.
I find it astounding that such a low move as replacing Fleming is even being contemplated, and his mooted replacement by a man who’s had his chance and couldn’t make simply defies belief.
Let’s just hope that common sense prevails, and wiser heads intervene to prevent this injustice to Josh Fleming from happening.