Veteran clerk of course Leo Dwyer still riding high

FIRING: Long-time clerk of course Leo Dwyer will be in the saddle for a record 57th year at Warrnambool's big carnival, after bouncing back from a left hip replacement in September.
FIRING: Long-time clerk of course Leo Dwyer will be in the saddle for a record 57th year at Warrnambool's big carnival, after bouncing back from a left hip replacement in September.

RECORDS are made to be broken, but one record will be set at the upcoming Warrnambool May Racing Carnival that many of us will not see bested.

Respected horseman Leo Dwyer will act as the senior clerk of the course for the 57th year when the three-day carnival begins on May 2. 

The 79-year-old Illowa farmer plays down his remarkable achievement in the all-important role.

However, Dwyer admits he was a bit worried that he might not have made this carnival as he recovered from a left hip replacement in September.

“I suppose it was a bit touch and go when you get to my age,” Dwyer said.

“I had to have the hip replacement. It was bone-on-bone.

“It had been like it for a fair while but I just kept on going.

“I was a bit worried after the operation in September that I might not be right for the carnival, but I'm great now. I'm really looking forward to working at another carnival. I've got great back-up support from the other clerks in Ray Walsh and my kids Anne, Eddie and Janet.

“We all work in really well and then my wife Maureen does a wonderful job at home.”

The father of seven has fond memories of the Grand Annuals, but the 1979 version  stands out in his mind.

Follow The Band, trained by his wife Maureen, ran second behind Thackeray in the gruelling 5500m race.

“I’ll never forget the run of Follow The Band in the Annual,” Dwyer said.

“It was a tremendous effort. For a little while in the straight, I thought we had it won.

“Then Thackeray got up on the inside and beat us. The annual is a lot bigger event now than in 1979.

“There's lot more hype to the race.

“I've been fortunate to have witnessed up close some magnificent exploits by jumps jockeys like Teddy Byrne and Johnny Willliams plus incredible performances from horses like Kiamoto to win the 1981 Grand Annual.”


HOBBY trainer Geoff Withers took no credit for the surprise win of Unrealistic in restricted company at Stawell on Sunday.

The Warrnambool-based trainer has only had Unrealistic in his care for a few weeks before the four-year-old defeated Himeji Jo and Gold Spur in the $20,000 race.

“I really can't take any credit for the win,” Withers said.  “I've only had Unrealistic for a few weeks. 

“Fellow Warrnambool trainer Simon Ryan used to train the horse and I got it off him. I got the horse in super condition from Simon. 

“His brother Patrick had also done work with the horse. 

“I've just rolled up with Unrealistic and thought he would run well on the back of what the Ryan boys had done and the horse won.”

Withers also acknowledged the ride of apprentice jockey Georgina Cartwright in the 1600m race.

“It was a super ride by Georgina. She rides really well and probably does not get the opportunities she deserves.”

Unrealistic secured a winners’ cheque of $11,000 with the victory.


THIS year’s Terang Cup will be run this Sunday after the original meeting was washed out after one race on April 9.

Terang Racing Club manager Karen Van Kempen said it was a great result that Racing Victoria could find the date for the $50,000 cup to be run.

“It was unfortunate that our April 9 meeting had to be abandoned,” Van Kempen said. “There was nothing anyone could do about it. We’ll now hold a seven-race program on April 23.

“The meeting will give trainers the chance to give their horses a run before the Warrnambool May Carnival.”

The first race is scheduled to start at noon, while the last race will be run at 3.45pm.


TOUGH Orford-trained jumper Mannertone may go straight into the $300,000 Warrnambool Grand Annual Steeplechase without another run after a gallant fourth placing in the $100,000 Von Doussa Steeplechase at Oakbank on Saturday.

Trainer Anne McGrath will decide next week if Mannertone runs in the Brierly Steeplechase before a Grand Annual start, but she prefers no Brierly start at this stage.

“It was a slashing run by Mannertone in the Von Doussa,” McGrath said. 

“It was a great ride by Braidon Small. He's a very underrated jockey and we're really lucky to have him based in Warrnambool. I think we’ll go straight into the Grand Annual at this stage. 

“I really don't think he needs the run in the Brierly. We ran in both races last year and I reckon it just took the edge of him in the Grand Annual.”

Mannertone has earnt more than $168,000 in stakemoney from his 30 jumps starts.


PUNTERS who backed the best weighted horse in Australia on Sunday picked up $5.40 on the Victoria TAB for their troubles when Evenmoreaction won the $25,000 Penola Cup. 

Evenmoreaction carried 59kg to defeat stable mate Woolsthorpe Store and Mista Holyfield in the feature race. The win was the 18th for the 11-year-old, who was only 5kg above the minimum weighted horses. 

Evenmoreaction has won eight of his 16 starts at Penola.


WITH the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival only days away from being run, owners and trainers are reminded to check closing times for entries and acceptances.


LINDA Meech was suspended five days for careless riding after her ride on Duke Of Ellington in Sunday’s Stawell Cup. Jockey Jack Hill was finded $400 after his celebratory gesture on cup winner Mujadale prior to the winning post.