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Ian Chambers retires after 30 years

Ian Chambers retires after 30 years of calling races

Ian Chambers has just retired as a race commentator after 30 years of service to gallops, harness and greyhound sports, but he still won’t spend this Christmas at home.

Ian began covering trials around Canterbury in 1971. His first call on air was in 1980 at a meeting in his home-town Methvern, and things “progressed pretty quickly from there.”

In the early days all men wore hats, shirts and ties, and women all wore hats, but things are a lot more casual nowadays, says Ian. “It’s a picnic atmosphere now. I think it’s great, and we are getting all the young ones coming through, which is important.”

Ian has covered races from Christchurch to the West Coast and north to Blenheim. For a period he also covered Greyhounds at QE2 Park. That was in the days before there was Totaliser betting on the dogs.

Over the years he has seen some horrendous crashes on the race track, but he has also seen some great races. Probably the biggest race he called was the Star Travel Miracle Mile at Addington which was won by a horse called Norton.

One of the funniest moments he recalls, is calling his own horse home. It was in February 1991 at Westport. His horse Merlray Kiwi won on the first day and ran fourth on the second day. It was a “big thrill,” says Ian.

Ian and his partner Lynda have been running a restaurant called The Maadi at the RSA at Rangiora for the past 20 months. Ian is now going to work at this business full time, but he won’t be turning his back completely on racing. “I have a horse racing on Boxing Day at Westport, so I guess this will be another Christmas away from home!” He will also be chalking up one important first for Ian: Darnie Cornetta will be the first horse that he has bred to make it to the racecourse.

NZ Racing Board head of broadcasting Glen Broomhall said “Ian has made a sterling effort over a long involvement in the business and we all wish him well in his new endeavours.”

His replacement will be Thomas Woods, a young man who had come through the commentator cadet programme, trained and mentored by the icon Reon Murtha. Thomas has been calling trials in Canterbury as part of his training and was now “ready to take on the challenge of race day,” said Glen.

Thomas will be calling two races at Addington tomorrow (December 22) but his first full day solo will be at the Westport Trotting Club on Boxing Day. Ironically, one of the horses he will be calling home will be Ian Chambers’ Darnie Cornetta!


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