Each year the Hunter & North West Racing Association gives out the Bede Thomas Memorial Award.
It is awarded to “the person that is considered to have rendered long and meritorious service to the NSW racing industry”, H&NWRA secretary Bob Scherf said.
Bob Poetschka is the embodiment of that statement.
The racecaller, who recently retired due to health issues, was presented the award last week at the Scone Race Club.
Poetschka was “surprised” when he was told he’d receive the award but gladly accepted the accolade after calling thoroughbred races since the mid-80s.
His first start calling came in greyhound racing when he was 15 and was almost over before it started.
“When he called his first greyhound race, you weren't allowed to call the dogs past the post. You had to stop 15 metres before the post because that way you couldn't influence the judge,” Bob’s wife June said.
“He called it and he called them past the post and the president there at the time said ‘that’s it, he’s finished’.
“But the ones on the committee said ‘well we thought he was great and we can’t see why he can’t do the call past the post’ and the committee ended up employing him.”
That was back in 1960 and over the years Bob has called greys, trots and the thoroughbreds.
He also seen plenty a champion come through the ranks in his time.
In greyhound racing, a couple stand out.
“Rocket Mac was the best one,” Bob said.
“There was another one, too. Kid Springdale, he was owned by the fella who used to work at the leader, Richard Mercer.”
A few names came to mind – like Four Eight in the harness racing world – when talking about great horses, too.
When asked if he’d ever found calling hard, Bob replied “no”.
He thought anyone getting into it needed to have “natural ability” and Bob has it in spades, along with his work effort.
June said up until last year, she’d never known Bob to take a day off.
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