There are not many racing men who are remembered long after their death, but one such man is Clif Cary. Prior to his passing on 10 December 1986, at the ripe old age of 81, Clif Cary had left an indelible mark on two sports in Australia. Cary was a respected cricket reporter in the 1930’s and 1940’s. Wikipedia note Clif Cary was the “sports editor on the commercial radio network with the largest sports audience in the Commonwealth and in 1946 he published Test Cricket and Records, a splendid, authentic and comprehensive history of the many great Anglo-Australian matches from 1876 to 1938. He was a cricket commentator for the radio station 2UE for the 1946-47 Ashes series, after which he wrote Cricket Controversy, Test matches in Australia 1946-47, an account of the series in which he was critical of the poor selection of the English team, Wally Hammond’s uninspired leadership, Don Bradman’s overeagerness to win, which Cary thought verged on gamesmanship, and the mistakes made by Australian umpires George Borwick and John Scott. Along with Jack Fingleton he was regarded as one of Bradman’s critics, even though he admired his batting”.


But Clif Cary was most certainly not a one trick pony and he also forged a respected name for himself in thoroughbred racing, via his weekly appearances on radio nationally each Saturday morning in a show called “Three Way Turf Talk,” which involved himself, Bert Bryant in Melbourne and Vince Curry in Brisbane. Bert Bryant and Vince Curry were universally accepted leading racecallers in their respective State and the radio show had a huge following, as radio ruled, given Sky Channel was a long way off being launched. Apart from his weekly radio show, Clif Cary sold racing publications to interested persons. His publication Racing Review had a huge subscription base in the 1960’s and 1970’s and in early November 1982, he took over the publication of Australian Punters Digest, which one could only obtain a copy “by subscription only” and it was “Published by E. C. Cary Investments Pty Ltd., Marvic House, Suite 108, 658 Pittwater Road, Brookvale N.S.W. 2100” as per the front cover notice of the first edition published by Clif Cary, which a website devotee, Dan Phillips, kindly sent me during 2013 after seeing this website’s attempts to bring historical racing articles to public attention, as sadly Google and the Internet weren’t even a figment of anyone’s imagination back in Clif Cary’s day.

Clif Cary’s editorial in the 9 November 1982 edition of Australian Punters Digest read in part as below.


Today and hopefully also one day next week, I’ll re-produce the kind of work that Clif Cary put out in his weekly editorial, which gives an insight into his writings across many and varied subjects, even to the point where capital letters started his first word or two when he changed topics.


“KINGSTON TOWN ran a much better race than many anticipated in finishing only a neck behind Gurner’s Lane in the Melbourne Cup. The race proved a triumph for VRC handicapper Jim Bowler. He received many congratulations. Had the positions been reversed there could have been brickbats!


There is a guardian angel who looks after doubles bookmakers and club handicappers. I understand the two Gurner’s Lanes was a good result for the fielders, with the close finish an even better result for Bowler who had been criticised for his treatment of both horses.


Bowler was accused of having let Kingston Town in light with a kilo under weight-for-age. Others thought him over harsh in penalising Gurner’s Lane three kilos for his win on a wet track in the Caulfield Cup. In relation to the weight-for-age scale he rated them level. On margins, there wasn’t more than a half-kilo between them.


In one respect the honours were with Gurner’s Lane. He drew wide, had to cross to the inside, brushed the running rail at one stage then came from well back in the field to wear down Kingston Town. It was in his favour that he didn’t cover any extra ground, and enjoyed a splendid run in the straight.


Kingston Town, on the other hand, had the run of the race from an inside gate. Some good judges, however, were critical of Mal Johnston for pulling away from the fence and making his run too soon. Johnston says he rode the ‘King’ in the best possible manner to afford him his greatest chance of winning. It must be said in his favour that when he changed course there were some tiring horse in front of him. The greatest jockeys in the land are those who ride them from the stand. On that score, Mal can have the last say.


THE BIG TALKING POINT came two days after the race when weights were declared for the Perth Cup. Even allowing for weight compression I can find no excuse for the WATC handicapper letting Kingston Town into the race with 58.5 kg. This is 1.5 kg less than weight-for-age, and a half-kilo under what the gelding had in the Melbourne Cup.


The leniency is more bewildering when it appears certain that the Perth ‘two miler,’ at the time of handicapping, must be at least three to four kilos weaker than when weights were declared last July for the Melbourne Cup.


It is obvious the WATC want Kingston Town as the big drawcard for the summer carnival. The handicapper has extended a gilt-edged invitation to Tom Smith to set his charge for the Cup in addition to the lead-up weight-for-age events. He had intended running the black in the $130,000 Western Mail Classic on November 27, and the $50,000 Cox Stakes on December 27. Kingston Town only has to come through those races satisfactorily to contest the Cup. If he can win all three he will earn $510,500 in prize money including a bonus of $225,000 for the treble. It would take his career earnings to $2,025,290.


I am not stupid enough to declare Kingston Town will win the Cup. A lot can happen between now and January 1, but I do agree with Perth trainers who have hotly criticised the kind treatment of the ‘King’. Flattering handicaps are not in the best interests of racing. It costs just as much to train and feed an ordinary horse as it does a champion.


JOCKEYS, I’m told, are being paid $100 a morning to ride in scenes being ‘shot’ for the Phar Lap movie. Some ‘hoops’ have turned down the easy money as it would have meant them having their hair cut to the short-back-and-side style of the 1930’s. It is said others find it difficult to slow-up thoroughbreds sufficiently to make the film ‘Phar Lap’ look the part. That’s a new one!


BETTING TURNOVER in many areas is not keeping up with inflation. This is going to make it difficult for many horse, trotting and greyhound clubs in 1982-83.


WORD from Melbourne suggests Roy Higgins is ready to hang up his saddle, although no retirement statement is likely to be made before his birthday next June. Higgins has lost none of his skills, but no longer gets anywhere near the same opportunities as in the past.


Three factors have been working against the man who ranks high among the very great Australian horsemen, and it was sad that for the first time in 20 years he did not land a winner at the Melbourne Cup carnival.


Higgs is no longer the number one rider for any of the top stables. He has had a weight problem for years, and modern handicappers have added to it by the way in which they are compressing weights. This approach to keeping weight off good horses means fewer rides for good heavyweight jockeys.”


To be continued next week………………


Footnote: Clif Cary’s family were also involved in radio. His son Garth was an anchor at 2GB in Sydney for a time when “Three Way Turf Talk” was happening Saturday mornings, whilst respected and recently retired Brisbane radio personality, Greg Cary, who worked at 4BC from 1993 until 6 December last year, is a grandson of Clif Cary.


Today on there’s the second of two days of photos from Eagle Farm last Saturday, plus other photos of interest. On there’s the story of the licensee that was disqualified for 15 years yesterday, whilst on Matt Nicholls tells one and all why he doesn’t think Shamus Award can win the Australian Cup on Saturday.


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