8 Tuesday October 31 2017 Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Our People SELWYN TIMES Mark McNamara Australian race commentator Horse racing commentator Mark McNamara is about to embark on his busiest time of the year – Cup Week. He talks to Gordon Findlater about crossing the Tasman from New South Wales and living the dream in Selwyn You’ve been in Christchurch for a while now. Have you always been based in Weedons? It will be eight and a half years at the end of this year. We arrived in July 2009. We started in Mt Pleasant and rented a place up there for a while and didn’t really know where was where when we first moved to Christchurch. Then we bought a house in Rolleston just prior to the first earthquake. Our current place in Weedons we’ve been in for nearly three years. How long have you been calling races and how did you get into it? I started when I was about 15 and I’m now 39 so it’s been a 24-year whack. I got a job at the equivalent of Trackside in OFF TO THE RACES: Canterbury race caller Mark McNamara at home in Weedons. Australia straight out of school. I had a cadetship there from 18 and it’s just gone from there. By the time I left it was mainly just race calling. Is it something you always wanted to do as a child? I wanted to do it from the time I was a really young kid, we’re talking three or four-years-old. I went away from it a bit in my teens because it wasn’t cool. I PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER was lucky enough to get a break when I was 15. I happened to be at Randwick on Melbourne Cup day because I was skipping school and I got talking to a guy and he was the judge at Bulli trot trials (New South Wales). I started calling at the trials there and that was the start of 24 years. Is there a race you called that sticks out in your mind as a favourite? Terror to Love’s third cup when he galloped away and it looked like it was over. That will always stick in my mind. The Sydenham Hurdles was the first race I called in New Zealand in 2009 and I’d never called a jumps race before, that will be another I’ll never forget. What about when things go wrong? A fog night at Addington is always fun when you can’t see anything. They put a camera on the back on the mobile and you end up calling most of the race off a monitor and just hope you can see something. Then they pop out of the fog for about the last 100m or 50m at the end. It’s actually good fun, you just have to enjoy it because you can’t see but nobody else can either. It ends up being a bit like a Lotto draw. What about a favourite race meeting? I love Cup Week. Obviously as busy as it is, it’s a wonderful week. Kaikoura Cup is my favourite meeting of the year.
SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at www.star.kiwi Tuesday October 31 2017 9 Local News Now lands on his feet in Selwyn Fire rages, homes at risk Why the Kaikoura Cup? It’s just once a year, it’s laidback. It’s the setting with South Bay in behind and everyone, whether they follow racing or not, seems to know Kaikoura is the place by the blue water. I spent a lot of time at Bathurst as a kid so that will always be special to me as well. Do you get cup day nerves? I try to treat it just like any other race at Addington, even though it’s not. The adrenaline is pumping. It’s a case of just keeping calm and not going off too early and just calling what you see. Personally, for me, I hope I’m happy with the job I do on the race because it’s a long 12 months to wait for it to come back around. Do you own any horses yourself? I’ve got three broodmares here. I own half a broodmare at Rangiora. I just sold a two-year-old to Aussie. I’ve got a yearling here and a trotter down south. So too many. What about outside of racing, what else are you interested in? I watch a lot of rugby league, I’m a massive Sharks fan. Also touch footy on a Tuesday night at West Melton is always good. The Cronulla Sharks NRL title last year would have been a highlight then? Yes, I never thought I’d see the Sharks win a premiership, so if they never win another one in my lifetime then I’ve already seen more than I thought I would. I’m also lucky with my job, the hours are pretty flexible so I get to spend plenty of time with my kids and mill around at home. I’m pretty much a homebody, as my wife Katie and I are usually home. You have children? What’s life like at home? A boy and a girl. Will turns five next February and Bronte’s two and a half. They’ve got a pony each. There’s four chickens, two adopted roosters that sneak in from down the back, two dogs and a cat. Was it hard making the adjustment to living in Christchurch after moving from Aussie? It was pretty good because the traffic is so much better over here. I know it can still get pretty busy in peak times, but compared to Sydney, it’s a dream to get around. The weather didn’t take too much getting used to because I spent plenty of time growing up in Bathurst. They’ve got pretty similar weather conditions there – it gets cold in winter and can snow. Over all, I settled in pretty well and Katie was the same. You talk about growing up near Bathurst. Do you like motorsports? No, doesn’t do anything for me. Although, I don’t mind the formula one. I’d love to go to the Monaco Grand Prix, but no, the V8s don’t do anything for me whatsoever. Can you ever see yourself doing anything else; what’s the expiry date on a race caller? As long as we’re doing a good job, it’s basically when we die (laughs). When the lungs give up or when the memory goes because it’s all done on the memorising of the colours. While the brain’s good, the eyes are strong and you’re calling accurately it’s your job almost for life. I’d imagine it’s a job that requires a lot of research. What do you do leading up to a race meeting? I’ll wander through the stables before the meeting just in case anyone gives me a snippet of information. It might be someone’s birthday or a pronunciation of a horse. I’ve usually done my tips the night before and then it just comes to memorising the colours just before each race. Ideally, I can call the race off memory or without looking at the race book. HOMEBODY: McNamara with his two children Bronte and Will.. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER What’s your pick for cup day then? It’s Lazarus’ to lose. He’s just too good, he’s the ultimate professional. His preparation has been faultless. Heaven Rocks looks like he could have been a danger but he’s just too goofy. Any other picks for the week? I hope Te Akau Shark takes out the 2000 Guineas on the first day at Riccarton because it’s part owned by Cronulla Sharks captain Paul Gallen. I try not to have too many favourites but I’ll definitely be cheering for him. That must a busy week for you. Do you get much sleep? It’s manic, especially from the Tuesday to the Saturday. You call Addington, go home and go to bed, get up and look at the field for Riccarton on Wednesday, call that, go to bed, then get up and go to Ashburton on the Thursday. It’s the same routine for Addington on Friday and then it’s Riccarton on Saturday. I’ve then got a gallop recap show on Sunday. You know it’s coming and it goes by pretty fast really. CUP WEEK CELEBRATIONS Mahinga Kai - Shed Talk Discussion Group Find out how the good management practices you’re employing on your farm can help Mahinga Kai. If you are a farmer in Selwyn, we encourage you to attend one of these events to learn more about how your work will contribute to improved water quality, which in turn will help restore mahinga kai. Date Time Location 26 October 3pm-5.30pm 565 Lochheads Road, Leeston (Arable Farm) 2 November 10am-12.30pm Synlait supply 2014, 686 Hororata Dunsandel Road All welcome! Return to the Silver Dollar after the races for your best bet on drink and meal deals. • Indoor, outdoor & mezzanine dining areas • Large sheltered & sunny courtyard • Extensive lunch & evening menu selection to suit everybody’s tastes • Large range of wine, tap & bottled beers • 2x courtesy vans available Silver Dollar – the bar that supports your community 871 Jones Rd, Rolleston | Ph 347 0386 | www.silverdollarbar.co.nz