Dean Jones appointed as Alice Springs’ new race-caller

Alice Springs race-caller Dean Jones
The Alice Springs Turf Club has appointed Dean Jones (right) as its fulltime race-caller.

He has extensive experience when it comes to calling harness racing and the greyhounds, but Dean Jones is now getting used to life as the new race-caller in Alice Springs.

Jones has called the last four meetings at Pioneer Park, which included Saturday’s program, after debuting on January 14.

Well known throughout Queensland, Jones decided to relocate to the Northern Territory to start a new chapter in his life — much to the relief of the Alice Springs Turf Club.

When regular race-caller Dylan Bairstow returned to Perth after calling last year’s Alice Springs Cup Day meeting on April 30, the ASTC had been searching for a replacement.

Former Alice Springs race-caller Shane Green, who headed back to NSW before relocating to Darwin, had only agreed to fill the void on a temporary basis.

Green called the races at Pioneer Park from 2006 until 2017, with Pat Comerford — recently appointed as the new race-caller in Dubai after stints in New Zealand and Singapore — and then Bairstow filling his shoes.

Others had auditioned for the position in Central Australia before Jones secured the role.

Having stepped away from calling the trots and dogs, Jones had been working in the hotel industry in Gladstone for a couple of years.

“I got a call from the Alice Springs Turf Club committee — they wanted a fill-in race-caller, so the club flew me over to call a meeting,” he said.

“Then after that they virtually put up a proposal that they would like to have a fulltime race-caller here, so I decided to get back into broadcasting and moved to Alice Springs.

“I was very nervous calling my first meeting at Pioneer Park as I’d only called gallop racing once before, and it had been a while since I had called harness racing and the greyhounds.

“I did spend time memorising the jockeys’ colours and going through the form.

“I got through it, but I’m always looking to improve.

“Shane Green has contacted me a few times, he’s certainly helped me along the way.

“He’s been great, it would be good to meet him one day.”

With the Alice Springs Cup Carnival getting a facelift in 2024 — it starts on March 17 and ends with Cup Day on April 7 — the club’s committee can certainly breath a lot easier after landing Jones.

There have been back-to-back meetings in February, and with a further eight meetings scheduled on consecutive weekends, Jones will no doubt have his eye in come Cup Carnival.

Jones, who grew up in Ipswich, made several flights to and from Alice Springs to call the races before finally farewelling Gladstone and settling in the Red Centre this past week.

Outside his commentary commitments, he has already acquired employment at Lasseters Casino.

“I’ve never been to an Alice Springs Cup Carnival, but I’ve only heard good things about it,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to it.

“I hope to stay here for a while, I’m not planning on going anywhere.

“I’m loving it here at the moment, it’s great to be back in the racing industry.

“If anything came up as a career move where I could call more frequently in another state, that would be another thing.”

Jones has ended up behind the microphone in the NT previously on the occasions regular Darwin greyhound caller Craig Sant took holidays.

“I’ve been to Darwin in the past to call the greyhounds at Winnellie Park, it’s been good experience,” he said.

“The Darwin Greyhound Association have been great to deal with and it would be good to go back there one day if they ever need somebody.”

Jones is excited about his new career move, but there was a period when thoroughbred racing played second fiddle to harness racing and the greyhounds.

“When I was younger, I loved to follow gallop racing more, but when I was involved in the harness racing and greyhounds they became more of a priority to me,” he said.

“I mainly grew up around harness racing from a very young age, that’s where I first started.

“I was in harness racing for a very long time, it’s still a fascination of mine.

“I love harness racing in Queensland, but the greyhounds didn’t come along until I was older.

“I was offered to call some greyhound meetings at Ipswich.

“I was working for Radio TAB at the time and my career went from there.

“I was calling both harness racing and the greyhounds for a while in south-east Queensland.

“It’s great to be in the gallop industry and learn, and to be able to call all three codes.”

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