July excitement keeps Munsie coming back
Glenn Munsie returns to Grafton for the annual July Racing Carnival in a different capacity than he is used to.
Most years he has been at Grafton as firstly a young onlooker with his parents Norm and Anne, then a punter, before working there for the TAB as its media manager, and, more recently as the senior presenter for Sky Channel.
This year he is the Clarence River Jockey Club's special guest.
It's an honour, he said, the result of more than 50 years of attendance.
"My first year was 1962,” Munsie said.
"I was five months old.”
His father, Norm, was riding there.
"Mum's been going every year since, this will be her 57th straight year.”
He remembers early days when he used to collect soft drink bottles that were worth five cents a bottle. These days they are only worth 10 cents, he laughs about the poor inflation rate.
Glenn missed the carnival for a few years when he went to high school. He began working for bookies in Sydney when he was 18 and remembers a far different racing landscape where he and his mates dissected the fields at Grafton carnivals, looking for winners.
"It was a lot different to today. In those days the fields might have been in the paper on the Monday and the markets would go up for the Saturday races. Now the punter is so well informed.”
And that's what he has been doing since 1999 when he joined the NSW TAB and became a media manager providing punters with as much information as they could deliver.
Technology has played a huge role in that and after almost 20 years at the TAB, Munsie he became a senior presenter with SKY in 2018.
While he has covered all sports, he handles "purely racing at Thoroughbred Central”.
Carnivals, such as Grafton, have changed as well.
"I remember going there for a month, not just the racing but for a holiday,” Munsie said.
"Everyone thought dad came from Grafton because he was always there.”
In those days the rings had 60-70 bookmakers (local and metropolitan) and horses came from all over, from the provincials, interstate and even New Zealand.
Lightning Bend and Takeover Target are two horses that spring readily to mind as being among his favourites.
"But we concentrated more on finding a winner and if you backed it and it won then he'd become your favourite,” he said in a punting truism.
These days the carnival is much shorter and concentrated in duration while the coverage is more intense.
"The provincial and country racing has had a massive improvement,” Glenn said.
"On a Sunday you could be racing at Taree and Warren for instance and the coverage is like the Saturday metropolitan coverage, the punter has never been better informed.”
Munsie loves his job.
"Every day is a different day. Look at me. I'm just about to jump in a taxi and go to the airport to catch a plane to Brisbane (Oaks day). I was in Tamworth the other day and Canberra. I'm quite happy to go to three or four meetings a week. Get to see racing at its absolute best at country cup days like Tamworth or carnival time in Sydney and Brisbane.
"At the country meetings the people are so appreciative, too. Love to talk, treat me as a long lost brother. They love to have a talk, tell me stories from 40 or 50 years ago.”
Grafton is special for Munsie and while he's been coming here since 1962 he will be honoured to attend as the CRJC's special gust.
"We're driving up Sunday,” he said of a day where he will be on track for the South Grafton Cup.
"Then there's the club luncheon on Monday, golf Tuesday with a few old mates and then racing Wednesday (Ramornie day) and Thursday (Cup day).” - Geoff Newling