“Worthy Glen, Lois Lane, Worthy Glen, Lois Lane…and Ragsie’s flying…” It’s the call of the last stage of that particular race, run at Wentworth Park way back in March 1972 over the airwaves of racing station 2KY that always comes to mind when I think of Paul Ambrosoli. On Saturday night 21 June, Ambrosoli brought down the curtain on a race-calling career which spanned almost half century.
I was just a kid and very new to the sport when I first heard Paul Ambrosoli’s calls. Ken Howard had just retired calling the Sydney horses, Ray Conroy was the ageing doyen of the trot callers, while also doing the horses and greyhounds; Ray Warren was the on-course broadcaster for the greyhounds at Harold Park; and Frank Kennedy called the greyhounds on rival station 2UE. Yet, for me, the caller who possessed the best ‘voice’, with the modular clarity, the timbre, and the accuracy belonged to Paul Ambrosoli. Of course there’s no sensible way to measure one race-caller against another. It’s a personal preference thing, although I suspect there are many like me who consider Paul Ambrosoli the absolute best of breed.
Paul has been deservedly honoured by being inducted into the Greyhound Hall of Fame and having a race named after him. The Ambrosoli, run over 520 metres at Wentworth Park, usually takes place on Golden Easter Egg final night.
I first had the pleasure of meeting Paul back in 1987, at Harold Park. At the time I was involved with a new greyhound magazine. I spent some time with him in the caller’s box at Harold Park. On a couple of occasions I chatted with him when the move was made to the new Wentworth Pak circuit. He was always friendly and courteous, a genuine goodwill ambassador for the sport.
Paul was one of the most energetic people you could ever meet. How he packed so much into a day is beyond me. A complete professional with an engaging personality. His contribution to greyhound racing in New South Wales cannot be underestimated. He always made the act of race calling sound easy. Having spent a brief period calling races myself (not greyhounds, but, of all things, quarter-horses), I am well aware of how tough a task it is.
For some, Ambrosoli’s calls might be bereft of excitement: more clinical or analytical than others. For me, he brought a race alive: high-pitched histrionics were a rarity. Perhaps that’s why the “Ragsie’s flying” call is one I recall as if it were yesterday. After nearly 50 years at the top of his profession he was quoted as saying, “The benchmark for greyhound racing will always be Zoom Top. Her exploits are well documented.” I think I can say the benchmark for greyhound race calling will always be Paul Ambrosoli.
By the way, Ragsie won that race back in 1972, and went on to become NSW Greyhound of the Year.