From the outback to Ireland, there’s not many places that haven’t heard racecaller Paul Dolan
PAUL Dolan is the “I’ve Been Everywhere” man of the race-calling community.
The understated Dolan, widely known by the nickname “Dogs” for as long as I can remember, has called races on an incredible 103 tracks. It has to be a world record.
“I’d never thought about it until one day an old trainer said ‘geez, you must have called on a bloody lot of different tracks’,’’ Dolan said.
“So I sat down and did a list a few years ago just as a matter of interest. I was surprised how many there were, and I’ve added a few since the original count.’’
Dolan’s resonant voice is easily identifiable to most people who have had a punt in Queensland over five decades.
Gallops, trots, dogs; he’s done the lot from Eagle Farm to the outback, from Hong Kong to Ireland to Texas.
Dolan called his first official race (a three-horse affair) at Gayndah in 1973 and broadcast the last race on radio station 4BC (from the Ipswich greyhounds) when they pulled out of racing in 1991.
Two days later he broadcast the first Queensland race on the new Radio 4TAB from the Beenleigh dogs.
Down-to-earth “Doggsy” Dolan has never forgotten his humble beginning on bush tracks and still drives many kilometres to call at non-TAB tracks like Wondai, Eidsvold, Kumbia, Esk and Stanthorpe.
He is just as comfortable in the bush as at the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Ipswich, Doomben or Eagle Farm.
For a bloke who is often perched high in a vantage point to provide a race broadcast, Dolan admits to a dislike of heights.
“For a few years I used to make an annual trip to Talwood, about 450km west of Brisbane, and remember the first time I called there,’’ he said.
“They’d erected a sort of platform up in a big tree and had a ladder for me to climb up. It’s the only time I’ve baulked at a broadcast position. I just couldn’t go up there and called the races from a lower position.’’
Another uncomfortable time was at Hong Kong’s Happy Valley, where he called the main race from the seventh floor of the grandstand.
“You looked out over a ledge at more than 20,000 people down below. Calling in Hong Kong was a big thrill as it was an international meeting and leading broadcasters like Greg Miles and Bryan Martin called races as well blokes from England and New Zealand.’’
Dolan’s loyalty to country clubs stems from the opportunities given when he was working as a clerk in the Agricultural Bank but desperate to get into race-calling.
“I wrote letters to numerous race clubs, inquiring about a leg-up in the calling caper. Only two replied and they proved fruitful,’’ he said.
“Miriam Gittins, the secretary at Kilcoy, put me in touch with Barry Green who used to call around the South Burnett. And Harry Pledger, who ran the trots and dogs at Border Park at Tweed Heads got me a start with the greyhounds.’’
Dolan has helped a number of budding callers to find their feet in an unforgiving profession, notably Michael Wrona who has worked at major tracks in America for more than 20 years, and Sky Channel young guns Michael Manners and Josh Fleming.
“If a young fellow has ability I’d never discourage them from having a shot,’’ he said. “It gives you satisfaction to see them do well.’’
Dolan has encountered just about everything imaginable, including unwittingly contributing to an on-track demonstration at Eidsvold in 1974.
“I was meant to call one race but the judges were delayed and the steward, the late Jim McGill, appointed me and a committeeman as judges.
“There was no photo finish back then and the opening race was pretty close. When we posted the winning number plenty in the crowd disagreed and started hurling abuse and rocking the rickety old tower which housed the judges box.
“We locked the door and tried to stay calm. Then the original judges turned up but they were intoxicated and were stood down. I ended up judging all afternoon and didn’t get to call a race.’’
Also at Eidsvold in 2006, Dolan called a finish in which the nine runners finished in race book order, from number one to nine. Odds of that occurrence were 362,880 to 1.
This year he tipped the card at the Sunshine Coast. “It took me 43 years to manage that,’’ he said. “For a bloke who started around Wondai and Kilcoy in ’73 it hasn’t been too bad.”
Story courtesy Bernie Pramberg Brisbane Courier Mail