A Hugely Successful Commentators Day Out

The majority of New Zealand’s race commentators relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed each others company during the Palmerston GRC hosted the second edition of the Commentators Day Out meeting on Monday afternoon which consisted of 15 races. 

Pictured: The line-up of commentators who all called the 15 races during Monday’s Manawatu GRC meeting

The array of commentary talent on display throughout the afternoon was impressive and high class. All twelve commentators involved delivered their respective race deliveries in the professional manner they do during the course of their usual commentating roles in their respective racing codes.

The day operated smoothly despite the late scratching from the meeting of three of the Australian based commentators plus the Sky Racing Catching Pen team who were scheduled to record this week’s program at the Manawatu Raceway owing to the coronavirus outbreak.

The afternoon’s activities got underway with the parade of commentators who rode in an impressive line-up of classic cars. 

Full credit and praise goes to Melbourne commentator James Van de Maat, who despite the uncertainly of the developing situation, made the trip across the Tasman with his wife Chloe which saw the commentator of last November’s A$650,000 TAB Melbourne Cup call two races during the afternoon. His voice will be missing for at least a couple of weeks when he returns owing to the required two-week self-isolation he has to enter into upon his return to Melbourne.

New Zealand greyhound racing history was made with Philippa “Pip” Morris becoming the first female greyhound commentator. She delivered her call on the open class 410m sprint in a very competent manner. She then returned to the microphone to commentate the 457m race that the Victorian lady commentator Victoria Shaw was scheduled to call.


Philippa “Pip” Morris delivering the first-ever female greyhound commentary in New Zealand; commentators George Simon, Dave McDonald and Tony Lee being interview during the afternoon by compere Andrew Lacy  

The late changes meant there was another edition of the dual commentated feature 660m staying distance event. Mark Rosanowski and Andy McCook called the race between them just like they did the previous year. Both of them also called the respective races they were allocated.

Northern thoroughbred commentator George Simon was able to include his trademark “it’s shut the gate time” when the race pacemaker cleared out for his effortless 457m win. Tony Lee was backing up from his New Zealand Oaks commentary at Trentham when he stepped up to deliver his colourful call on a 457m field that was full of promising intermediate graded greyhounds.

The southern-based pair of tri code racing commentators Dave McDonald (457m) and Justin Evans (410m) easily breezed through their respective assignments, while the Invercargill based former Queensland and Victorian commentator Craig Rail delivered his first greyhound commentary on this side of the Tasman in the 457m feature event.

The voice of the thoroughbred and harness New Zealand Cups Matt Cross flew through his 410m assignment with ease. Darryl Robinson kick-started the afternoon with his 410m call, while the voice of the Addington greyhounds Trevor Wilkes produced his 457m call later on the card.

The afternoon was professionally linked together by compere Andrew Lacy who aside from organising and running a successful Punters Club (which returned $25 for every $20 ticket invested) provided entertaining and informative interviews with the commentators throughout the afternoon. The callers certainly are a “colourful” group.  

The on-track action continued after the meeting with two divisions being held for the “human-powered” sulky races with the “horsepower” being provided by local rugby players. All commentators plus a number of the TAB Trackside crew contested the events, which was very colourfully and stylishly called by GRNZ’s Racing Operations and Welfare manager Michael Dore.

The first division saw Dave McDonald utilising all of his harness knowledge when he urged his cart pullers to victory. Making it a huge day for Pip Morris was completed when her pair of sulky pullers scampered clear for what was the easiest “race win” of the afternoon.


Philippa “Pip” Morris cruising clear for her easy “sulky” race victory and on the “postrace podium” afterwards with her children. In the runner up “cart” was Trevor Wilkes while Trackside producer Jason Patterson finished third; Dave McDonald celebrating his sulky race victory while Trackside producer Patrick Chappell claimed second with Justin Evans finishing third   

The entertainment continued into the evening with the popular Las Vegas Casino blackjack and roulette tables being fully occupied. It must be mentioned that a certain gentleman commentator seriously considered retirement when viewing the massive pile of chips (mega millions) he had accumulated. It was noted the “empty” feeling he experienced not long afterwards when he was holding zero chips.    

The second edition of the Commentators Day Out meeting was a resounding success which is a huge tribute to the Paul Freeman led Palmerston North GRC team.

By Peter Fenemor

Posted on 18 March 2020

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