Race caller remembers Allman Park
CALLING a race in the fog is one of the lasting memories of the 32 years Barry Jones has officiated at the races at Allman Park.
He retires as the Warwick Turf Club race caller after the five-race meeting this Saturday and will be succeeded by promising young Warwick caller Anthony Collins.
Jones started his association with the Warwick Turf Club in the 1970s when he called a few races for regular callers Bob Mahoney and Harold Kirwin.
He has been the full-time caller at Allman Park since 1978 and reckons he wouldn’t have missed six meetings in that time.
Since a Queensland Racing restructure of the industry in the early 2000s, there have been seven meetings a year at Allman Park but Jones remembers the decades when the club had a meeting virtually each month and additional meetings on Australia Day and Boxing Day.
He won’t forget the Australia Day race meeting in 1983 when the Warwick Turf Club invited legendary Sydney race caller Johnny Tapp to the meeting.
“It was a great thrill to share the broadcast box with Johnny Tapp, he called the first and last races and I did the other three races,” Jones said.
He has called Warwick races from two spots at Allman Park, a box near the road fence now used to announce fluctuations and the current broadcast box in the same tower as the judges.
“I once called the Warwick Races from the back of a semi trailer when they were changing over from one broadcast box to the other,” Jones said.
He remembers calling races when heavy rain started to fall during the race and in the fog when the horses looked like ghost images in the distance.
“I only picked the horses up properly near the line,” he said.
Jones has no hesitation in giving his opinion on which horse has won the race in a tight finish.
“You have to have a go, it is much harder to judge on a track like Dalby where the broadcast box is 30 metres before the finish line,” Jones said.
“I get it right most times.”
At one time, his calls from Warwick were broadcast on 4WK or 4GR in between race calls from major meetings.
“I only knew I was on air when there was silence in my earphones,” he said.
While Jones will retire on Saturday from calling Warwick Races to give a younger caller a chance, he will continue at Dalby and 12 other tracks to the north and west.
“Anthony Collins is a young fellow who is part of the Warwick Turf Club and deserves his chance,” Jones said.
“The sooner he gets a chance the better, he has the talent to do an excellent job.
“All good things come to an end,” he said.
He is happy to support the young race callers in Australia who, he said, were recognised as the best in the world.
While there is no rule preventing Jones from betting on the races, the $5 at the most punter avoids betting on races he calls.
“I have avoided it as you can tell in the call if a broadcaster has money on a particular horse.”
Jones will have many happy memories of Allman Park as he drives away on Saturday.
“Warwick is a great club and I have received excellent support from presidents, secretaries and committee members down the years. They have made me feel appreciated,” Jones said.
Warwick Turf Club president Garry Adcock said Jones was wonderful to work with.
“As committee member Mick Grew said on the morning of one race meeting, you don’t have to worry about Barry Jones pulling out at short notice as that is never the case,” Adcock said.
“If Barry couldn’t be at a meeting, he would always have a replacement organised.
“Barry was so reliable, nothing was a problem. He has already said he will come to Warwick Races socially as he loves it here.”
Collins said Jones had been a massive support to him in his career as a race caller.
“He often frequents other meetings I do like the Toowoomba trots and is there to offer a word of encouragement.”
Barry’s top jockeys down the years at Allman Park include