‘One on One’ with LUKE MARLOW

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We usually focus on trainers in the “One On One” question and answer section, but I have decided to chase young race caller Luke Marlow so people can learn more about him as he rises through the ranks. He is a very good caller already and there is no doubt in my mind he will be around for a very long time, and hopefully that he may end up back in Queensland! He is the latest winner of the Sky – John Tapp calling scholarship and has a big future in the racing industry.
Here’s our ‘One On One’ with Luke.
Gibbo: How are you mate? And thanks for catching up with us
Luke: Well thanks Gibbo, my pleasure mate.

Gibbo: We should probably start by telling the followers about where you grew up. A true blue bushy I believe?
Luke: Absolutely Gibbo, I grew up on our family property in a town called Thangool. It’s about 20 minutes from Biloela in rural Queensland with a population of about 400 so very much a boy from the bush! We later moved to Rockhampton in central Queensland in around 2003, now ofcourse I have been in Sydney for 4 months after winning the scholarship.

Gibbo: Racing has been in your blood for a long time? Your dad is a trainer himself? Do you come from a big family?
Luke: That’s right my father Jeff Marlow is a trainer so I grew up around horses. My parents run Merlo Downs stud where we race and breed our own horses. There are 5 of us in our family, Dad, Mum (Lea) my brother Jack, 12 and sister Paige,16.

Gibbo: What are your first memories of being around the stables? Best and worst jobs involved?
Luke: Like anything there’s always the ordinary jobs, anyone who’s mucked out stables would know that’s not much fun..! I used to ride dads horses track work when I was at home. I miss that side of the industry it’s very rewarding to see the horses you have been with since day 1 going on and winning races.

Gibbo: When did you first get into calling, and what was the first race you called? My research says it may have been a family affair?
Luke: It sure was. I was 14 at the time and that was at Yeppoon in august 2008. Tony McMahon was calling the meeting and he offered me the chance to call a race, which I jumped at. I remember standing on a milk crate because I was too short to see through the binoculars which were taped to a stand. Dad had a horse in the race, Fleet the Bongo and you wouldn’t believe it, he got up and won. You can imagine what it was like when he hit the front! I’ll never forget it.

Gibbo: What was the experience of going through the SKY John Tapp scholarship like?
Luke: Life changing. When opportunities like the Scholarship come along you just have to grab it with both hands and give it your best.  The process for the scholarship was to send in some tapes of races you had called as well as a resume and then if you were lucky enough to be selected in the top 5 applicants as I was, we were flown to Sydney for interviews and each called a race at Wyong while we were there. There was a bit of pressure when we all had to call at Wyong as you could imagine. Calling at a track you haven’t seen before with horses and jockeys you may not know, and the pressure of having only one chance to impress. I just took a few deep breathes and gave it my best shot. I felt very humbled and overwhelmed when I won and now I’m working with people I’ve watched on TV and listened to for years it’s just crazy. It’s been a dream come true!

Gibbo: Who has had the biggest influence on your career at this early stage?
Luke: I’ve had so much support from a lot of people. Tony McMahon gave me my start at all the country tracks around central Queensland he gave me race meetings to call and I can’t thank Tony enough. Wayne Wilson took me under his wing and used to let me go with him to eagle farm and Doomben. I used to call and tape the races from a spare box and Wayne would critique my efforts. Advice from those guys is priceless. Local callers Russel Leonard, Scott Power, Liam Mulry all gave me a go when I was starting out.

Gibbo: Apart from the Melbourne Cup what race would you most like to call?
Luke: The Cox Plate or anything Black Caviar runs in!

Gibbo: Did you have a certain caller you loved listening too, or based your calling on?
Luke: Being a Queenslander Alan Thomas and Wayne Wilson. I used to tape Waynes call on radio while listening to AT that way I could hear them both!

Gibbo: What do you see as your strength when calling?
Luke: I pride myself on flare and accuracy, you want punters and owners to respect your judgement and trust what you’re saying. I will usually have a go in a tight finish and if a horse is 3 wide you want to call it 3 wide, after all that’s what your doing- describing a race. When I was starting out Wayne Wilson told me something I’ll never forget- race calling is all about the ABC’s, Accuracy, Balance & Class.

Gibbo: Am I right in saying you once got locked out of the box before a race?
Luke: Yeah you wouldn’t read about it would you, a day I’m glad is over! I was in the caller’s box at Kembla Grange preparing to learn the colours. The jockeys were just mounting up and what a lot of people don’t know is we call the horses by the jockey’s colours and only learn the colours when the jockeys mount up. So Before I started to learn the colours I realized I had left my pen in the photo finish camera room down the hall so I quickly left the callers box the go get it. As I went into the room to get my pen the door blew shut breaking the door knob and I couldn’t get out! Because everything up there is sound proof no one could hear me. You can imagine the state i was in when I finally got out and it was only minutes before the race. I frantically learned the colours as best I could and somehow got through the field and called race. We all laugh about it now looking back, the important thing is to learn from it and move on. It was just a freakish thing that happened. For the record, I have more than 1 pen with me these days…!

Gibbo: I talk to a lot of people in QLD and all have a big wrap on you already. Is your goal to end up back in Qld? Or you don’t care where it is if you can just continue doing what you love?

Luke: Right there Gibbo I do love what I do so I would go to the ends of the earth to call races. I’m employed by Sky now so i just go where im rostered. Although I havnt quiet got grips on this Sydney traffic yet… I’m happy here and there’s great racing in all states so who knows where I may be in 10 years’ time. While there’s race meetings to attend and horses to call I’m happy anywhere!

Gibbo: Good luck with it all Luke, and like all other Queenslanders out there, we wish you the best of luck and we will all be following your career closely!

Luke: Thanks Gibbo and I’d just like to thank my family, friends and each and every person who has supported me all the way through I wouldn’t be where I am today without you all and certainly won’t forget it. I hope I can do you all proud!
*What a pleasure to catch up with such a nice young bloke! He is not only a credit to his family, but his whole community in North Queensland. He has a very bright future and I will be trying to keep in touch to make sure brissyraces is always up to date with the latest in Luke’s career.