The man behind the mike
IF YOU have been to a race meeting in the North Burnett in the last 45 years, then you've heard Paul 'Dogsy' Dolan's voice before.
He called his first race at Gayndah in 1973 and despite retiring from calling TAB-aligned races last year, Mr Dolan will continue to man the binoculars at Gayndah, Mount Perry and Eidsvold for as long as he can.
"If I started to lose it, calling wrong horses, I'd give it away, but while I'm still reasonably sharp, I'd like to keep going for a few more years," Mr Dolan said.
Mr Dolan, who is now 66, said he first decided he wanted to call races after attending Doomben Racecourse with his mother when he was around 10-years-old.
"I was more fascinated by the voice of the race caller over the speakers than the actual horses running around the track," he said.
"At Doomben, the callers were in the back of the public stand so you could literally get there and see them.
"I was fascinated by how they did it, how they learnt the colours, how they made all the announcements.
"I just thought one day I'd like to have a go at that, it just looks like a fulfilling sort of job.
"I admired the good Brisbane callers at the time."
When he was a little older, he approached clubs from Kilcoy to the North Burnett asking for a shot, and he was told to see legendary Burnett race caller Barry Green, who was getting married and needed an off-sider.
After impressing at a trial, Mr Dolan was invited to call, a single race at Gayndah on March 31, 1973, with a field of three, including Lord Muesta, which Mr Green owned.
"Theoretically (it was) an easy one to start," Mr Dolan said.
However, back then, the tower was just a wooden platform located flush against the fence, so Mr Dolan had no elevation to judge the distance.
"I was looking down their throat," he said.
"They went into the home straight and I'd never seen this before, the leading horse stayed on the inside, horse running second went to the middle of the track and the other horse went to the extreme outside fence, so when they came to the straight, looking head on, I had no idea.
"It was a really close finish."
Luckily, photo finishes weren't introduced until 1975, so Mr Dolan could pass the buck.
"The agreement with the callers was we would just say it's close and leave it to the judges, rather than us saying one thing, the judges saying another and us inciting a riot," he said.
"The winning post... was just a wooden post with a black stripe painted down the middle."
Mr Dolan said there is a spirit to country racing which is unmatched by the big group races.
"(It's) totally different, without being nasty to them it's so friendly out here, country people just come for a good day out whereas down in Brisbane, it's more the hardened punter you're mixing with," he said.
Mr Dolan said, these days, he needs very little preparation to call races.
"When I first started out, I used to get the book and learn the colour the night before, then I'd wake up the next morning and I'd forgotten them all," he said.
"It's a short-term memory retention thing, it would have been no good me learning the colours this morning even."
The most important thing, Mr Dolan said, is accuracy, followed by excitement and a 'little bit of humour'.
"But only a little bit," he said.