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Popular race caller Wayne Wilson dies
Mark Oberhardt
07:05 AEST Sat Jun 7 2014

Popular Queensland race caller Wayne Wilson has died aged 66 after a long battle with cancer.

Wilson fought cancer for nearly 15 years with the same zeal and passion he approached his career.

The disease finally claimed his life on Friday night, the eve of Brisbane's biggest race day.

Even after recent brain surgery he returned to working as the on-course interviewer for Brisbane Race Club television.

"I would miss the track too much if I just gave it away," Wilson said.

He was diagnosed in 1999 but said he was determined to fight the disease, undergoing many operations but always retaining his love of racing and his family.

Wilson was born into a racing family with his father Herbert a bookmaker in the central Queensland town of Gladstone and his uncle Jack Wilson one of Queensland's leading trainers.

He found he had a knack for calling races and began his trade as a 12-year-old at Ferguson Park in Gladstone.

It was nearly 50 years later he called his last official race at the Deagon picnic meeting in September last year.

Wilson began his working career in a bank but was sacked because he went to watch Jack Wilson's champion mare Eye Liner win the 1965 Champagne Stakes in Sydney.

He found work on radio in Rockhampton where he changed his given name of Herbert to Wayne to fit the 1960s DJ mould.

In 1967 he married his high school sweetheart Sally and by 1969 the young couple had moved to Brisbane where he got work with 4BC.

For the next 14 years he was 4BC's harness racing caller, covering 12 Interdominion series, and working as understudy to Vince Curry as the thoroughbred caller.

Wilson called his first Stradbroke Handicap in 1975 when Curry was on leave.

When Curry died in 1983 Wilson was appointed 4BC's and then later Radio TAB's No.1 race caller.

Until his retirement in 2010 he was without peer and he is the only Queensland based broadcaster to call both the Melbourne Cup (2002) and Golden Slipper (2003).

Wilson's favourite horse was Eye Liner who won nine races in a row as a two-year-old, but he had a deep admiration for the kiwi champion Rough Habit and the Queensland hero Strawberry Road.

Perhaps his memorable call was the 1991 O'Shea Stakes. Eight horses went across the line within half a length of each other but Wilson managed to get them in the right order.

Wilson owned and bred dozens of horses with his best being Do You Remember and Ranch Heiress who both won the McDougall Stakes in Brisbane.

He was also the driving force behind renaming of races after great Queensland racing figures such as Jim Atkins, Bruce McLachlan, Keith Noud and Mick Dittman.

Wilson is the only person to be inducted into both the Queensland Racing Hall of Fame and the Queensland Harness Racing Hall of Fame.

He is survived by Sally, their children Jamie and Honi and four grandchildren.


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