There might have been a bitterly cold breeze sweeping through the Forbes Jockey Club race caller’s box on Sunday, but it couldn’t wipe the smile of Col Hodges face.
The legendary country race caller had just finished describing yet another Forbes Cup to audiences all over the country and the world.
After presenting the Forbes Cup to the winning connections of the Gayna Williams trained and Anthony Cavallo ridden From The Bush, the Forbes Jockey Club then sprung their own little surprise on Hodges, honouring him with life membership for his efforts in supporting the club and country race throughout his much-celebrated 50 year career.
“It was a surprise, but it was very special,” Hodges said.
“With Bedgerabong just down the road, they also gave me an award earlier this year, and now Forbes have – they are both two very special cups to me and I’m very honoured to receive life membership here.”
The 71-year-old, who is a proud Forbes product, said he wanted to give the 2021 edition of the Forbes Cup a good call, explaining he was just happy the meeting went ahead for everyone involved.
“I find this really special today, calling the Forbes Cup, and for me, it was important to try and give a decent call,” Hodges said.
“I was really, really hoping that the rain would go away because it’s a social day out, and all our friends are busting their guts to get the day together and I see what happens and how much they do to put a meeting together, so it would have been disappointing if the meeting got called off.”
Accolades and recognition from thankful country race club committees have been bestowed upon Hodges throughout 2021, with Bedgerabong re-naming their caller’s tower in honour of the man himself, while Condobolin gifted Hodges a beautiful montage of photos, and these two gestures are among too many to name that have been made by many other clubs.
A humbled Hodges didn’t want to put himself on a pedestal, but he proudly touched on his commitment to turning up and calling, which has no doubt made him the popular commodity he is for country clubs.
“I know there would be other people that would be prepared to call at those outback meetings, but whether they would be prepared to do it consistently, I don’t know,” Hodges said.
“I just don’t have days off. People know I will turn up and call.”
There is no slowing down for Hodges, who plans to call for as long as he can, and as long as tracks want him around.
“I just take it as it comes, I just say to myself, ‘one day I might just wake up and think I’ve lost it’.” Hodges said.
“The clubs still want me to keep doing the meetings and I still feel as though I can call.’
The 50-year veteran of the game said he still had his moments, and he still gets as nervous as ever when it comes to calling race meetings.
“I think my favourite part is when I get the first race out of the way,” Hodges said.
“People might find it hard to believe but I still get quite nervous sometimes.
“I’ll be driving to a race meeting, and I wonder if this is the day I will lose it, or whether I will muck or stuff something up.”
While calling at Forbes, it was obvious to see Hodges still has plenty to give, and he admitted he still got a thrill out of entertaining the crowds and watching promising horses in action.
“When I called that Forbes Cup, I could hear the people cheering and carrying on, plus watching a horse that looks to have a good career in front of him, it makes it pretty special,” Hodges said.
“They are the best fields I’ve seen at Forbes, especially for the cup – it was a good day.”
Hodges will be back at the races this weekend, venturing to Coonamble on Saturday and Dubbo on Sunday.