Day At The Track

Luke's found his calling in life

09:00 AM 13 Apr 2021 NZST
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Luke Humphreys, Harness racing
Luke Humphreys
Charli Masotti Photo

One of Australia's youngest full time race commentators, 20 year old Luke Humphreys, lives, eats and breathes harness racing - and still has to pinch himself that he's making a career from his obsession with horses and racing.

"I got my big break when I was 18, in a full-time role with Harness Racing Victoria - but I'd been practising race calling since I was 10 or 11," Humphreys said.

"Dad always had horses, standardbreds, and I never really wanted to do anything else," he said.

"I was a singer in a band at school and was pretty serious about that at one stage, and I also thought about camera work. I even thought about being a trotting driver, but I could see that would be very hard. The passion for calling came first, and it was definitely the thing, so I just kept at it."

Humphreys, who is based at Gisborne, near Melbourne, became the trials commentator at local greyhound, trotting and racing clubs from the age of 15 - around the same time he became co-host on a community radio harness racing program at Melton.

He began as a part-time caller at RSN (Racing Sports Network) radio when he was 16 and spent two years there before working his way into the full-time role at HRV.

He clearly remembers one of the "biggest thrills" in his life was climbing the stairs to the commentator's box at Mildura trots on a warm day in 2019. He'd received the call up for his first "real" race calling gig, at Mildura trots.

"Mildura always had a bit of an aura about it, and Craig Rail (Humphreys' predecessor) had really made the place his own," Humphreys said.

"It's a bit of a unique set up, because of the isolation and the number of meetings held there, and just the following the sport has. That first day I remember as 40 plus degrees, there was a decent crowd, and I was just rapt to be there.

"I was just so proud to be able to say that I'd called the Mildura trots! Little did I know that a couple of months later, I'd be lucky enough to get the gig when Craig left, and Harness Racing Victoria offered me a full time job."


Commentator Luke Humphreys, Mildura Harness Racing Carnival CEO Michelle McGinty and Luke’s dad Paul Humphreys enjoying the party that is the Mildura Pacing Cup carnival

Humphreys is now the permanent Mildura caller and works on roster at other regional tracks. He said he had learned a lot from the support of mentors such as Dan Mielecki, Rob Auber, Matt Hill and Greg Miles.

"You never stop learning, I don't think. You take little bits of everyone and then develop your own style," he said.

"I generally prefer to call off the screen because with binoculars you can sometimes only see a small section of the field and miss something important.

"I always have in my mind that you've got to save yourself that little bit extra, in case something unexpected occurs right up until they cross the line."

Humphreys signature parlance "true Mildura style" is now a catch cry for the circuit's tight, unpredictable and competitive racing but due to COVID-19 he had to wait two years to roll out the phrase for the three-day Mildura Carnival party last week

"It's humbling how much that phrase has taken off. I never wanted it to or thought it would as much as it has," Humphreys said.

"I don't like overdoing it but it definitely deserved to get a few mentions during Mildura Cup week!"

 

Terry Gange

NewsAlert PR Mildura

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