McDonald takes difficult final race call in his stride

Jockeys and officials joined commentator Dave McDonald for a presentation on his last day of...
Jockeys and officials joined commentator Dave McDonald for a presentation on his last day of calling at Ascot Park yesterday. PHOTO: JONNY TURNER
Southland commentator Dave McDonald’s smooth tones rang out around Ascot Park for the last time when he called Dough Boy to victory in his last race call at Ascot Park yesterday.

Thick fog and extremely poor visibility meant the veteran broadcaster was effectively robbed of the chance of delivering one of his signature calls

for the Davey Mac Appreciation 1400, as the field emerged out the gloom only in the last 150m of the race.

The fiasco was set up by the haphazard timing of finishing a rare July meeting in Invercargill at 4.39pm.

Some racegoers commented it was appropriate officials bungled the scheduling of the meeting as it mirrored the way they mishandled the end of McDonald’s stellar career.

Earlier, emotions ran high as officials, supporters, participants and fans gathered to congratulate McDonald on his career of more 44 years.

During a special presentation, led by the Southland Racing Club and supported by clubs of all racing codes around the province, McDonald revealed it was the people he worked with that made his job so enjoyable.

"The last 40 years I have had the absolute pleasure of working with some of the nicest people on the planet.

"Over all codes, you’ve just been absolutely marvellous."

McDonald said it was an honour to be able to serve as Southland’s race caller for more than four decades.

"It has been enjoyable and we have had some good days and bad days.

"I guess my aim was to make the punters happy by giving them race calls and giving them winners.

"Right from the tea ladies to the tote staff, you’ve treated me really, really wonderfully."

"It has been fun. It has been a privilege. It has been an honour to serve you for that long."

Dozens of racing insiders rushed to McDonald’s side following the presentation of a specially commissioned oil painting to wish him well and thank him for the impact he had made on their lives.

Among them were the jockeys who rode at yesterday’s meeting.

McDonald said it was appropriate to have veteran riders such as Terry Moseley and Chris Johnson alongside him at his final meeting.

"It is probably good that I am here with the jockeys. They are my most respected people in life," McDonald said.

"Mose [Terry Moseley] and Chris and I go back probably 30 years."

"We have had some really, really good days together ... and we have shed some tears together on more than one occasion, which I am sure we all remember."

The Southland racing community has been angered by the decision of the Racing Industry Transition Agency to cut McDonald’s calling duties, labelling it a disgrace.

The organisation ended several commentators’ contracts in a major restructuring of its broadcast operation, Trackside, in May.

Dunedin-based Justin Evans has taken over calling Southland meetings of all three racing codes.

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