I’ll never forget the day Sky Channel boss Graham McNeice told me he was bringing a young race caller from Queensland to join the Sky team. Russell Leonard was only seventeen, very talented but very intimidated by the big city. The youngster loved the experience but couldn’t adapt to life in a city like Sydney. We catch up with 50 year old Russell Leonard three decades after homesickness sent him scurrying home to Rockhampton. 

Right off the top we investigate the nickname by which he’s universally known.

 

Russ takes us through his current work schedule.

You’ll be surprised when he outlines the number of horses trained at Callaghan Park in Rockhampton. Russ helps to coordinate trackwork a couple of days a week.

He talks of the outstanding racing surfaces available at Rockhampton and Mackay.

Russ takes us back to childhood days with his horse trainer father Keith Leonard. He remembers life on the road with a truckload of horses. They met some interesting people.

He has never forgotten his “baptism of fire” behind the microphone when the Clermont race caller couldn’t get there.

Russ looks back on early days as a caller on bush tracks and his first real opportunity in Rockhampton.

He’s never forgotten the fateful phone call from Graham McNeice which enticed him to Sydney. He reflects on a busy year with Sky Channel and the lingering homesickness that brought him home.

Russ looks back on a short but fascinating stint in Port Moresby. He couldn’t believe the volume of wagering in the New Guinea betting shops.

This man has crammed a lot into his fifty years. He remembers his role as racing manager to the late Bruce McLachlan at the trainer’s world class Caboolture training centre.

Russ talks of his long stint as a sales rep in the liquor industry- firstly with Hardys Wines and later with Bacardi Lion.

The talented Leonard takes us through his role as a compere of the popular Calcutta functions which precede regional Cup meetings. He’s in demand as far afield as Warrnambool. 

Russ talks of his marriage to Karen and the progress of their two sons.

Russ pays tribute to two special horses who cut their teeth on Central Queensland tracks. You’ll know the names.

I can’t believe more than three decades have passed since “Brolga” spent a restless year in Sydney. Lovely to catch up with a dyed in the wool Queenslander. 

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