Luck on bookie’s side

He’s seen it all and not ready to give it up – Brian Shan­non is back for an­other Cup

Stanthorpe Border Post - - SPORT - Matthew Pur­cell Matthew.Pur­cell@bor­der­post.com.au

I found it was bet­ter book­mak­ing than back­ing them.

— Brian Shan­non

FINE Cot­ton, the ad­vent of mo­bile bet­ting, fash­ions on the field – a lot’s changed in rac­ing since Brian Shan­non first made an ap­pear­ance at the Stan­thorpe Cup in the mid-1970s.

Oc­to­ber 20, Stan­thorpe Cup day, will be his 31st ap­pear­ance as a bookie.

“I started book­mak­ing in 1987 but pre­vi­ous to that I worked for other book­mak­ers around here,” Mr Shan­non said.

“From prob­a­bly around the mid-’70s – 1975 I think. I done that for a few years and de­cided to get a li­cence my­self.”

His love for horses came from his dad, while some of the fam­ily had in­volve­ment in the in­dus­try.

“Dad was an avid punter and I had an un­cle (Pat Shan­non) who was a hell of a pen­ciller,” he said.

“He was un­be­liev­able with fig­ures.

“I was al­ways in­ter­ested. We raced horses when I was young – we had a few when I was around 21.

“Paul Molan was a pub­li­can here (in Stan­thorpe) and we bought horses to­gether and raced them. We raced them in Bris­bane and Toowoomba. Won a cou­ple races but noth­ing to brag about. Pretty hard to win a race.

“We had a lit­tle bit of luck but not a lot. In the end I thought it might be best to go to the other side.

“I found out it was bet­ter book­mak­ing than back­ing them.”

Mr Shan­non’s been ever-present in Stan­thorpe, Toowoomba, War­wick, Ip­swich, Clifton, Al­lora, Goondi­windi and Texas over the years.

He said the in­dus­try and the way peo­ple en­gaged it had dra­mat­i­cally al­tered.

“There’s been a lot of changes,” he said.

“All the cor­po­rates have come in – all the ones that you see on the TV.

“Peo­ple start bet­ting on Wed­nes­day so by the time Satur­day comes most peo­ple have backed the horses they want to back.

“It’s all changed and it’s the same with the races. They go to the clubs and watch them in the air­con­di­tioned com­fort and bet on their phone. The non-TAB races are still good. Stan­thorpe is still one of the best ones of those.”

For more than 40 years Mr Shan­non has watched on as the Stan­thorpe Cup has evolved.

“The last 10 years it’s re­ally kicked on,” he said.

“Back in the ’80s there was no fash­ions on the field or so­cial events – it was just rac­ing. Now there’s so many dif­fer­ent things. The young peo­ple love get­ting dressed up and that didn’t hap­pen years ago ... and they’ll have their flut­ter.”

He’ll be there this year but how many he has left in him, he’s not sure.

“It’s just the sort of thing that gets in your blood,” Mr Shan­non said.

“I’m get­ting to­wards the end of my tether now – get­ting too old.

“I’ve got one staff and he’s been with me ever since I started – Barry Brunck­horst. He’s seen the good days and the bad days.”

It may have hap­pened at Ea­gle Farm but the Fine Cot­ton ring-in scan­dal still goes down as one of the most mem­o­rable.

“It was prob­a­bly the most ex­cep­tional thing,” Mr Shan­non said.

“Un­be­liev­able, that day. It knocked the in­dus­try around and proved there was a crim­i­nal ele­ment there. I sup­pose it prob­a­bly wasn’t the first time it hap­pened but it was the first time they got caught.”

Mr Shan­non hopes for a clear day on Oc­to­ber 20, with lo­cal races al­ways pre­ferred by pun­ters.

“It falls away a lot when there’s no lo­cal rac­ing,” he said.

“That’s where about

60 per cent of your busi­ness will come from, lo­cal races.

In his 30-plus years he said his big­gest pay­out was in the vicin­ity of

$4000–$5000.

PHOTO: FILE

CAL­EN­DAR DAY: Brian Shan­non has been a main­stay at the Stan­thorpe Races for decades now.

PHOTO: FILE

Brian Shan­non has been field­ing at Stan­thorpe Cup for some time now.

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