There is no one more synonymous with racing in Gippsland than Peter Eustace, a man who has called more than 50,000 greyhound, thoroughbred and harness races since the mid 1960s.
His passion for calling started long before that, however, as Peter practised his craft in the rough streets of West Heidelberg in Melbourne’s north while in his teens.
“I used to call matchstick races down the gutters in the lane ways when I was a kid.”
“West Heidelberg was a rough area back in those days, but calling matchstick races would keep me entertained,” Eustace recalled.
Eustace grew up idolising legendary race callers Bert Bryant and Bill Collins, both of whom he would eventually deal with throughout his working life.
He first started calling at Broadway Park, which was Ballarat’s original greyhound track, before moving to Gippsland where he called races for local radio station, 3TR in Sale.
Eustace has called all three racing codes at every race track in Gippsland on countless occasions, however, greyhound racing is undoubtedly his code of choice.
“I love calling greyhounds because it keeps you on your toes. With horse racing you can get into a pattern and call a good race, but with greyhounds – particularly short races – you have 18 seconds to call a race and it is really challenging.”
“I still call three or four greyhound meetings a week and I find it really motivating. I hope to be doing it for another 10 years,” he said.
Eustace’s passion for greyhound racing extends to the greyhound breed. He has trained over 100 greyhounds – never more than four at a time – and has experienced “reasonable” success including calling his own greyhounds such as Valpierre to victory. He has also kept many of his greyhounds as pets once they retired from the track.
His greatest thrill, however, was calling some of the all-time great greyhounds of yesteryear.
“I was lucky enough to call Temlee and Half Your Luck winning juvenile races at Traralgon and they both went on to be champions,” he said.
Peter has also served as a committeeman at the Sale Greyhound Racing Club. Close compatriot Des Dooley, Manager of the Sale GRC has many fond memories of Eustace, and none more so than the 2012 Sale Cup.
“My favourite memory of Peter was the 2012 Sale Cup. Peter missed calling the 2011 Sale Cup – which would have been his 40th one – due to illness, and there was a question mark over his ability to call up to his usual high standard when he returned. However, he had a great call as Destini Fireball won the race in front of a big crowd, and that was something that will live with us forever,” Dooley said.
“Peter’s passion for racing is obvious when he’s calling, especially in tight finishes. Another of his strengths is that he’s always unbiased. With some callers you can sometimes tell who they’ve backed by the way they call, but you would never know with Peter – even though he is only a modest punter – and that takes a lot of professionalism.”
“He also avoids controversy by not saying if a greyhound has fought. That takes discipline, and the last thing you’d want to do is get a call like that wrong or put pressure on the stewards to act. Mistakes can easily be made on first look.”
Peter Eustace joins form guide entrepreneur, the late Bill Pearson, as the only people to be inducted into GRV’s Hall of Fame for their contribution to media.