SOUTH-WEST racing steward Frank Beattie will have mixed emotions when he officiates at next month's Warrnambool May Racing Carnival.
Beattie, 79, anticipates the carnival will be his last, after being in the role for 55 years.
"I've had a wonderful time as a steward," he said.
"I'm nearing the end of my career - you can't go on forever.
"I haven't finalised anything at this stage, but I will within the next few months. I can't see myself lining up for the 2022 carnival.
"I can still remember working at my first race meeting 55 years ago up at Hamilton.
"I've worked with and met some really lovely people in the job and on the way I've come across a few scallywags.
"I've seen untold changes and controversies in my time as a steward.
"Things like closing all the little racecourses around the district at places like Koroit, Hawkesdale and Cobden in the 1960s was really big.
"We used to get huge crowds they were social days for communities. The meetings went to the bigger tracks with better facilities."
Beattie, who started his career in racing as an apprentice jockey to the late legendary Warrnambool trainer Kevin Lafferty, rode his first winner on Serenada at Macarthur in 1959 before winning the 1960 Mortlake Cup on Star de Feu for his old master.
"Laff had a huge influence on my career and on so many others back in that era," he said.
"Laff was a wonderful trainer. I can remember back when women were not allowed to strap horses, let along ride in races or train.
"Race books never contained the names of jockeys. There was no form in the race books as declarations were only 45 minutes before a race."
A big part of Beattie's love affair with racing has centred on jumps racing and in particular Warrnambool's Grand Annual Steeplechase, which he has viewed from various stewards towers around the track.
"The Grand Annual is an amazing race," he said.
"I've watched the deeds of horses like Gypsy Grey, The Sundance Kid and Foxboy but the best I believe was Buxton when he won the Annual in 1963.
"He won the Brierly on the opening day and backed that up winning the Annual when no one thought he could run out 5500 metres.
"I've got wonderful memories of my time as a steward. My late wife Marg was a great back stop to me, and so has my daughter Jo."
It looks a formality that Beattie will join respected well-known racing figures Des Gleeson, Ray Murrihy, Neville Wilson and Leo Dwyer as honorary life members of Warrnambool for their services to racing.
WRC chairman Nick Rule said Beattie's honorary life membership will be discussed at the club's committee meeting on April 22.
"Frank has been a wonderful ambassador for racing," Rule said.
"It's an amazing achievement to have filled the job as a steward for 55 years.
"Frank is highly respected by everyone within the racing industry.
"The district and the wider racing community have been very lucky to have people like Des, Ray, Neville, Leo and Frank fill important roles in racing for so long."
It's fitting that former Racing Victoria chairman of stewards Gleeson, a long-time friend and work colleague, has the final word on Beattie's career as a steward.
"Frank's knowledge of racing is unsurpassed," Gleeson said. "He knows the rules of racing like the back of his hand.
"He's been an astute steward and was beyond reproach. His departure leaves a huge void in the steward ranks in Victoria.
"Frank had all the attributes to be a good steward. He was a former jockey who could read a race, which is very important from a steward's perspective.
This year's Warrnambool Carnival is on May 4, 5 and 6.
JUMPS jockeys Bradley Thomas-Rantall, Braidon Small and Tom Ryan were in the wars with the stewards at Hamilton on Sunday.
Thomas-Rantall pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge after his ride on Arizona Drifter.
His licence was suspended from April 11-18. Stewards took into account his good record and guilty plea before handing down the penalty.
Ryan was also outed on a careless riding charge. He is out from April 18 until the first jumps race at the Warrnambool May Carnival.
Small pleaded guilty to a whip indiscretion on Sir Marengo. It was found Small used his whip on nine occasions prior to the 100 metre mark.
His suspension starts midnight April 18 and ends midnight, April 21. Stewards also fined Small $200.
FIRST-SEASON jumper Valac could be a starter in the $50,000 Novice Hurdle at Warrnambool on May 6, after scoring an impressive maiden debut victory over hurdles at Hamilton on Sunday.
Co-trainer Tom Dabernig said Valac had schooled well before making his jumping debut.
"We've had a bit of an opinion of Valac as a jumper," Dabernig said.
"He hasn't put a foot wrong in his schools. His biggest worry going forward is he's not really comfortable on heavy tracks and you usually strike them in the winter.
"He's good on soft ground like we had at Hamilton but there's that question mark on him on heavy ground.
"A race like the Novice Hurdle at Warrnambool is a real possibility."
WARRNAMBOOL galloper Robbie's Star is more seasoned for this jumping season than last year, trainer Peter Chow said after the nine-year-old scored a surprise victory over 2600 metres at Ballarat on Sunday.
Robbie's Star ran fourth in last year's Galleywood Hurdle at Warrnambool before running third in the Australian Hurdle.
Chow has targeted Robbie's Star at next month's Galleywood Hurdle.
"I got a bit of a surprise Robbie's Star won on the flat on Sunday," he said.
"I knew the horse was going pretty well, but I thought a few of the other runners may have been too sharp for him. I was proven wrong.
"I'll look at running Robbie's Star in the Bourke Hurdle at Pakenham next Sunday before going to the Galleywood. I would love to win the Galleywood.
"Robbie's Star ran well in last year's race but I reckon he's derived great experience out of his hurdle runs last season."
Robbie's Star has won two of his seven jumps starts.