One of greyhound racing’s most recognisable names, Peter Eustace, has just celebrated 50 years as a race caller.
March 28th marked the important date with celebrations occurring at Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club where Peter called home the twelve race meeting.
Peter Eustace opened up about his experience of being a voice of Gippsland greyhound racing for so many years.
Q: To be working in greyhound racing for 50 years, one can only assume you love it?
Peter Eustace: I definitely love greyhound racing. It’s because you can get so into it; there are so many roles that you can fulfill like breeder, trainer, owner, track staff and even race caller! They make great pets too so I truly do love every aspect of the sport.
Q: Who is the best caller you’ve come across in all of your years?
PE: Bill Collins and Bert Bryant are honestly the epitome of race callers. Greg Miles is also really good. In all honestly, there are so many callers now its really hard to pick just one. But Bill, Bert and even John Russell are definitely high on my list because I was just in awe of them.
Q: Who is the best of today?
PE: I can’t go past Greg Miles but specifically in greyhounds there is Paul Dolan, and he is a journalist as well. He has been around for a fair few years too. It’s hard to think about one or two because there are so many good ones coming now. It is amazing now because there is so much scope for callers because of the high amount of meetings.
Q: What about the next big thing in greyhound race calling? Who do you think is the next up and comer?
PE: There is a caller named Matt Jackson that calls at a few places. He is a very good caller and has a bright future. The good thing too is that he is creating a lot of opportunities for himself so he should go far.
Q: What are the toughest challenges with being a greyhound race caller?
PE: Given how many dogs race through the week it’s hard to remember all of their names! Also trying to call each greyhound! The shorter races are over very quickly so I have to be really focused to get everyone mentioned. No matter what dog or what price, someone has an interest so it’s really important to me.
Q: If you weren’t a race caller what would you be?
PE: That’s a bit of a hard question because I’ve always been a caller or radio announcer. When I was younger mum wanted me to be an accountant because I am really good with figures. A guy back at the radio station actually told me to quit and get a real job – thank goodness I didn’t listen! If I had to do anything else I think I’d train a few greyhounds – just a couple though so I could put the right time in.
Q: What about your favourite track to call at?
PE: Well, Sale has been the best to me because its where I first started full time. They were the first club to have TAB race meetings and I have filled plenty of positions there like grader and honorary secretary. All of the tracks are good though and they all have a different setup that keeps it exciting.
WATCH: Peter calls Destini Fireball to victory in a thrilling 2012 Sale Cup.
Q: What is the most memorable greyhound race that you’ve called over the 50 years?
PE: I really love calling the Sale Cup. It gives you such a buzz and everyone there is so excited. The atmosphere is just so great. The most memorable race though was on the old track at Traralgon when Floodfawn won 13 starts straight at the same track. At the time it was an Australasian record before she went on to make it 15. I got to call the record setting race and it was such a big thing and really exciting.
Q: Who is your favourite greyhound?
PE: Valpierre was one of my favourites because of the family connection. My brother-in-law bred him and he was such a great dog. He won on the old Olympic Park track and he was so terrific and exciting.
Q: What are your memories about being inducted in the GRV Hall of Fame?
PE: I was surprised! I knew there was something going on when I got an invite for the first time though. My kids were there and it was then I realised there was something serious going on. It was a big thrill because I’d been sick and getting the award was really humbling. Thinking about the other people in the Hall of Fame just makes you stay humble. The induction was really great, I was given a giant frame with photos in it of my time. I really appreciated every bit of it.
Q: How many of Victoria’s 14 racetracks (including Wangaratta) have you called at?
PE: Well, I have definitely called at most! I never did actually call at Wangaratta and haven’t called at Bendigo, Warnambool or the new Ballarat track. But I have called at the others at one stage or another.
Q: How did you discover your passion and talent for race calling?
PE: Well I have always been interested in calling. When I was young I used to be silly and call things moving in the street gutter, and I was always liked phantom calling. I just enjoyed it and never really thought I’d get this far. It just shows that if you put your mind to it, you can do anything. I followed my passion through radio school, originally in Melbourne, and that opened the doors for me. It gave me experience that is something that can’t be beaten.
Picture: Peter Eustace at Traralgon Greyhound Racing Club. Pics Tammy Lee Photography.
Q: How many meetings do you call per week?
PE: It varies quite a lot, actually! This fortnight I am doing nine meetings but usually it averages out to about three per week.
Q: What is the most meetings you’ve called in a week?
PE: Well in a recent period of eight days I did six meetings!
Q: When and where did you first start calling?
PE: I started establishing myself calling a long time ago in Gippsland when 3TR covered the local races. Before that I would head down to Ballarat on a Saturday afternoon, before TAB meetings existed, and call a few. Officially though, I started Easter Monday in Birregurra in 1966. That’s the date that I have always said was my official start in the business.
Q: Finally Peter, how many more years do you think you will call and what are your plans in retirement?
PE: I’m not too sure on either honestly! The only thing is I think you know when the time is up. If I ever say the wrong dog or my eyesight isn’t great later on, it will be time. There is no specific time that I’ve set though, so I will see how it goes. When I retire I’d love to travel. My partner and I love globetrotting and I’d really like to see Ireland and Spain. I’ve done a lot of enjoyable things over my life and I just really want to continue doing them for as long as I am able. Lately, with the Hall of Fame and this celebration, a lot has been said about me and it’s amazing the feedback that I’ve gotten. It’s been touching. I want to be out here doing this as much as I can definitely.
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