Race caller's future unclear

By Iain Hyndman

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Any backlash from greyhound commentator Brian Martin being stood down from calling at Hatrick Raceway in Wanganui last Friday because he was allegedly drunk has yet to surface.

Officials stood Martin down after five races on Friday night, ruling he wasn't sober enough to do the job.

On-course stipendiary steward Mike Austin became concerned when it was noticed Martin appeared to be slurring his words and struggled to name more than a few dogs in some of his early calls.

This was out of character for the usually accurate and entertaining race caller.

After discussions with co-chief steward Ross Neal, Martin was replaced for the last seven races by Trackside's Mark Rosanowski, the Sunday Star-Times reported at the weekend.

"Something clearly wasn't right," Neal said.

"We became suspicious because the quality of his calling was not what it normally is.

"He was certainly impaired and I believe he went without any dissent."

Neal said Austin's report did not declare Martin to be drunk, but said he was obviously unfit for calling.

"He didn't do a sobriety test. You don't normally expect that sort of thing at greyhound meetings and Mr Austin didn't take any gear for that."

Neal said yesterday the Racing Integrity Unit had the power to replace any official if they were impaired, as Martin clearly was.

Video replays confirm Martin's speech was slurred and he took so long to go through one field, the winner had crossed the line before he called it.

Martin's pronunciation was often dubious and it was also difficult to identify what he was saying in between dogs' names.

Martin, who has earned a reputation for his colourful calls, could not be reached to comment yesterday.

The future of the controversial caller is now in jeopardy after previous clashes with New Zealand Racing Board authorities.

He was stood down and replaced as caller for Monday's Manawatu meeting.

"The extent of our (Integrity Unit) involvement ended on the night," Neal said.

"Mr Austin made the call to stand him down and now it is up to his employers, the New Zealand Racing Board, to make any decisions about what happens next."

Racing Board officials failed to return any calls to the Chronicle yesterday and Martin's future remains unclear.

It is understood an alternative commentator is on standby to call today's meeting at Hatrick Raceway.

- WANGANUI CHRONICLE

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