From listening on the afternoon school bus to one of his boyhood idols broadcasting the race, to now calling the event alongside one of his best mates, the Weetwood Handicap will always remain the pinnacle for Clifford Park’s chief race caller Anthony Collins.
Anthony lines up at Clifford Park on Saturday, September 26, to call his sixth Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood Handicap. Joining him will be his Brisbane colleague and Sky Racing caller Josh Fleming who will share the race descriptions on Toowoomba Turf Club’s gala annual race day.
The Weetwood program also features the TAB Toowoomba Cup, Magic Millions Garden City Guineas and Toowoomba Truck Spares Pat O’Shea Plate, which begins Queensland’s new two-year-old racing season.
Like any young or veteran Darling Downs racing enthusiast, Anthony has been captivated by the Weetwood Handicap since his days in shorts and long socks.
It remains his “backyard” Melbourne Cup and is like no other he encounters during his hectic 12-month calling schedule which takes in thoroughbreds, harness and greyhound racing. His special day is a mixture of excitement, pressure and satisfaction for Anthony, whose Weetwood duties also include his role as a TTC committee member.
“Back in my early days as an aspiring race caller, I remember coming home on the school bus when the Weetwood was run on the Show holiday Thursday listening to Pat O’Shea calling the race,” Anthony said.
“There was a real aura about it. I’m sure it was Pat’s ‘Melbourne Cup’ moment as a Toowoomba racing supporter and caller, and that is my philosophy as well about the Weetwood. It’s a different race to call from any other I do.
“I remember when Josh (Fleming) first called one, saying it was the hardest race he had ever done. It’s a hectic uphill race, run with pressure on from start to finish and when they get to the bend there are seven or eight horses queued across the track, which you then have to work your way through. There are very few races like it.”
Anthony will call each feature on the eight-race Weetwood program, while Josh will describe the remainder of the card in a coup for Toowoomba racing.
“It’s a high pressure day (of calling) and having one of my best mates here with me for the meeting is a real asset,” Anthony said.
“Josh’s national profile as a premier Saturday city caller also adds to the prestige of what is Toowoomba’s time to shine on the Australian racing stage.”
By Glen McCullough