Next wednesday at Morphetville Racecourse will mark the end of an era when leading South Australian racecaller Terry McAuliffe hangs up the binoculars after 20 years in the game.
A veteran of 20 Adelaide Cups, the racecaller will turn storyteller as he takes up the host role on Racing.com’s South Australian coverage alongside Form Analyst James Jordan.
It’s almost as if he was destined to have a life in racing, McAuliffe grew up one street back from Morphettville Racecourse on Austral Terrace. With countless stables in his neighbourhood, including Ron Dini’s yard over his back fence, he was short odds to have a career in racing.
“My dad was a racing fan and he often had the races on the radio and I loved to listen with him. Probably without knowing it, I was already honing my broadcasting skills by listening to the great callers of the 70’s.”
While his childhood was spent just a stone’s throw from Morphettville Racecourse, McAuliffe actually began his working life in the Commonwealth Bank Head Office on King William Street and funnily enough that’s how he got his first chance behind the microphone.
“I first got into calling at the Weigall Oval Harness Trials at Plympton on a Sunday morning when I was about nineteen years old. The opportunity was set up by bookmaker, the late Paul Riordan, whose son Peter I worked with at the bank at the time.”
After almost two years calling the trotters, his first big break came when 5AA, the racing station at the time, offered him a position in their broadcast team and at age twenty he resigned from the bank and joined the world of radio.
“In my early years of broadcasting I had the opportunity to learn from some of the best in the business in the likes of Bruce McAvaney, Mark Aiston and Ron Papps. Others who helped me on my journey and gave me opportunities along the way included Ray Fewings, David Whiteman, Keith Thomas, Geoff Pitt and Gary Burns.
Twenty years calling South Australian racing has seen McAuliffe rack up some serious miles in both car and plane, covering races from eighteen race tracks all around the state which all carry great memories for him.
As all punters and racing fans know, each track has its own unique qualities and for a caller this can make their job a little bit trickier than normal at times. None trickier than the famous Victoria Park.
“As much as I miss racing at Victoria Park, I certainly don’t miss calling there. The broadcast box was perched at the back of one of the grandstands and some 80 metres or so before the winning post. To make matters worse, once they reached the finishing line, runners quickly disappeared from view behind the judge’s tower.”
“Throw in the fact we had the 1000m straight races there as well. Friday nights were often sleepless thinking about the challenging days calling coming up on a Saturday.”
McAuliffe has called thousands of races in his time in the caller’s box and while he’s seen plenty of champions grace the turf around our state, there is one horse who stands out for him and she just happened to bring along 20,000 plus fans for her South Australian debut.
“If I had to select one race for a highlight reel it would have to Black Caviar’s first win in Adelaide in the Robert Sangster Stakes. To be fortunate enough to call her as it turned out not once but twice, when she came back to win The Goodwood as well, that was a wonderful thrill.”
Like leaving any job there are things that you miss more than others and for McAuliffe it’s being a part of those milestone moments that he’s going to miss the most.
“Whether it be a Club’s big race, a jockey’s first win, or a trainer’s treble for the day, I have always tried to highlight these occasions where possible in my calls. As a broadcaster it is always a huge thrill to call a special talent performing at their best. Whether it be on the football field, or at the crease, or on a fairway, or on a racetrack, it is a lot of fun and a big buzz calling the stars at work.”
“I will miss all of that, but by the same token I am looking forward to getting up close and personal in the winner’s circle and feeling the emotion of their success with Racing.com”
While he’s closing a big chapter of his life, McAuliffe is excited about his new one and even more excited about what is next for South Australian racing.
“SA racing has a long, strong and proud history. I will never tire of watching our talents emerge and grow their reputation on a national stage. In recent years, we’ve seen the likes of Jamie Kah, Phillip Stokes, and Lloyd Kennewell stake their claims Australia wide.”
“I always wonder who the next rising stars will be. It’s the unknown in racing, like two year olds stepping out for the first time that always excites me.”