The Thousand holds great memories for famous man on the mic

\"\"Caption: Former voice of Tasmanian greyhound racing Rod Marsh had a great time calling the dogs.

Group 1

Ladbrokes Hobart Thousand (461m)

Heats: Thursday, December 9

Final: Thursday, December 16

$75,000 to the winner

 

By Brennan Ryan

YOU could forgive former Tasmanian racecaller Rod Marsh for showing a slight quiver of delight, and panic, when he settles back and listens to the call of this year’s Ladbrokes Hobart Thousand on December 16.

The long-retired Rod called many ‘Thousands’ during his tenure at Hobart, with some of those calls considered textbook performances. However, his first call of the famed event in 1971 is deeply etched in his psyche.

But first some background.

Tasmania has been a fertile breeding ground for champions of Australian greyhound racing for more than 100 years.

Successful trainers, greyhounds, administrators and clubs have prospered and have been heralded across the nation.

But one group, which has been just as significant in the history of this industry, has not been as loudly proclaimed … the race-callers.

Each of these unique practitioners left an endearing mark on our sport, but many have not received due recognition.

Shane Yates, Gary Sutton, Peter Gilligan, Colin McNiff, Brett Neild and Brett Davis are just a noted few.

Rod was the voice of Hobart greyhounds for more than 13 years and when the 85th edition of the Group 1 Ladbrokes Hobart Thousand is run and won in December, no doubt he will be listening with interest.

Rod called The Thousand from 1971, when it was raced at the TCA Grounds, until 1984, then at the Royal Showgrounds.

“In all those years as a caller I enjoyed every moment. it was a great time in my life,” Rod said.

“Each year there was always many talented dogs racing and plenty of champions that raced at both the TCA and at the Showgrounds, but the Hobart Thousand was always the great race to broadcast.”

Rod didn’t come from a racing background, but living close to Elwick Racecourse and watching racehorses and the ensuing thrill and excitement got him interested in the sport.

“As a kid, we lived just a few streets away from Elwick and those days before the highway went in you could get to the back of racecourse to watch the races, and I would always go over with Dad,” he said.

“It all snowballed from there before I landed a job with 7HO to then call greyhounds.”

Before Rod become the resident race caller at the Hobart club, legendary sports figure Bill Barwick held the position, starting in the early 1930s before suffering a heart attack while calling races.

Barwick was the HGRC caller for 35 years, calling close to 20,000 races.

He had no choice but to retire, which left the position open for Rod to take over the role.

“I took over as caller on the 1971 Hobart Thousand Final night which Trion Scout won and fair to say I was thrown to the wolves because it was a big race and I was just starting out,” Rod said.

Later Rod called many outstanding Hobart Thousand winners, such as Beau Palomino, Sue’s A Credit, Jamin John, Royal Griffin, Black Aztec, Kudaleen and Double Time.

Most of those memorable races have been digitalised and can still enjoyed by everyone.

Rod said calling races on the circle-type track at the TCA was unique.

“It was such a pleasure to call at the TCA because it was up real close, and you didn’t need binoculars,” he said.

“The track was well lit and it provided such a thrill, which made it such a unique place.

“Having the red-coat handlers, crowds and bookmakers made it such a great atmosphere.”

Rod said administrators such as Peter Wright and Max Mason were masters at promoting big races and Rod played a huge part in radio previews as well as stories in greyhound publications.

Sadly all great things must come to end and the TCA track hosted racing for the last time on October 30, 1980, before the club shifted to its brand-new facilities at the Hobart Showgrounds.

A new era of Tasmanian racing was waved in at the new Showgrounds track on November 13, 1980, with the great Miss Coroneagh winning the first race.

In 1987 the HGRC hosted the National Distance Championship Final won by Ten Guitars.

Rod said he had great memories of the people he was associated with during his time in greyhound racing.

“The late Gary Sutton was a good race caller as well as a good friend and it is people like him who you will always remember. I’ve many wonderful memories of my life in greyhounds,” Rod said.

To this day Rod Marsh’s call of Royal Griffin winning the 1979 Hobart Thousand is widely considered a sporting standout.

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