It has been almost 33 years since Ray Hadley stepped into the broadcast box to call his first thoroughbred race.
He’ll return to the course where he made his debut on Saturday as the part-owner of Well Hardley Ever who races in the Tab.Com.Au Handicap (1250m) at Canterbury.
Before he was a 2GB comentator dominating Sydney’s morning radio ratings, Hadley called races across all codes.
He called the dogs at Nowra and Bulli at the start of the 1980s before graduating to Harold Park trots.
In January 1984 he got his chance at the gallops, calling a two-year-old race won by the Vic Thompson-trained Street Cafe.
“The winner was ridden by an apprentice called Darren Beadman,” Hadley told AAP.
It turned out to be a handy form race for horse, jockey and caller.
Darren Beadman went on to be the youngest jockey to be inducted into racing’s hall of fame in 2007 and Street Cafe was runner-up to Red Anchor in the 1984 Cox Plate.
And Hadley continued calling races until the early 1990s as he transitioned to rugby league commentary.
“I started filling in for John Tapp. Eventually I couldn’t keep calling the races and the football,” Hadley said.
He says his love of racing came from growing up near Rosehill.
“I haven’t had a bet for seven years but originally there was the lure of trying to win money like all punters,” Hadley said.
“I just love being on a race track. I love the stories that unfold.”
The teetotaller plans to have a couple of cups of tea with his mates who will be drinking beer on Saturday.
“It’s a funny thing, when I stopped punting seven years ago I thought I’ll never go to the races again because you only go to the races to bet,” Hadley said.
“I get a bigger thrill out of my mates backing a winner than when I used to back a winner myself.”