Day At The Track

Legendary scribe to be honoured at Kilmore

12:48 PM 06 May 2015 NZST
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Bob Cain.jpg
Bob Cain

One of harness racing’s great scribes will be honoured at Kilmore on Saturday night with the latest edition of the Bob Cain Memorial.

Losing his long battle with cancer in 2005, Cain left a hole in the industry’s media section too big to fill, having served the sport in the highest calibre for almost five decades.

Cain’s association with harness racing started in 1959 when, at the age of 16, he began work at the Trotting Control Board as, in his words, the ‘resident lackey’.

His flair for journalism was soon apparent, with Cain producing articles for The Guide, Australian Trotting Register, Racetrack and Sports Novels.

In December 1963, Cain left the TCB to work at Southdown Press as Assistant Editor on the racing and trotting publication Best Bets, while also assisting Southdown Press’ sister publication Truth.

Cain became chief trotting scribe for Truth in 1969, covering harness and thoroughbred racing for the next decade.

During the 1970s, Cain’s versatility shone through, with the intrepid reporter covering VFL, cricket, cycling and other general sports for the Truth.

After leaving Truth in 1979, Cain re-joined the team in 1982, before moving to National Trotting Weekly as Assistant Editor in 1985.

Cain took over paper’s top job in 1993, but resigned from the position in 1996 due to ill-health, working as a freelancer for the next eight years.

In 2001, at the insistence of then New South Harness Racing Club chief executive Peter V’Landys, Cain returned NTW, which had been renamed Harness Racing Weekly, to be publisher of the paper and its sister publication National Trotguide, simply because he was the best man in the industry to undertake the difficult role.

“Bob was a brilliant journalist, legendary author, but most importantly, he was a champion bloke,” V’Landys said.

“I don’t think I have met a person who had a wit like Bob possessed, and although he tried to hide his feelings, I don’t think there was a more caring and kind person.

“When we acquired Harness Racing Weekly Bob was simply the only person capable of getting the job of putting the two papers together done for us.”

During the years, Cain promoted the industry via radio and television, and has four books to his credit.

Among Cain’s achievements are numerous literary awards on a national and state level, with Cain gaining a reputation as an astute historian, which led him to becoming the “go to” man for a large number of journalists throughout Australia.

Cain’s career was given due recognition before his death when the Australian Harness Racing Council honoured him with the Joseph Coulter Media Meritorious Service Award.

As for the race in Cain’s honour, handy pacer Captain Bronzie shapes as the one to beat for trainer George Batsakis despite drawing awkwardly in barrier five.

The son of Art Major is ready to return to the winners’ circle having filled the placings at his two runs back from a break.

“He is going well, and after two runs this time in, he is back at his peak,” Batsakis said. “The barrier is a bit difficult, but it is only a small field of six, so it shouldn’t be too much of a concern.

“He has the gate speed there if Chris (Alford, driver) wants to use it.”

Following this weekend’s assignment Captain Bronzie will work his way through the grades as Batsakis prepares the four-year-old for the rich Vicbred Super Series.

“He is very loosely-assessed, so at this stage I will just get him through the grades and head towards the Vicbred,” Batsakis said. “He is not up to the real top ones, but he’s a nice type, which can win his races.”

  • PAUL COURTS

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