'Impaired' greyhounds caller gets collared

Last updated 12:40 16/12/2012

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Officials stood down Whanganui greyhound commentator Brian Martin after five races on Friday night, ruling he wasn't sober enough to do the job properly. The future of the controversial caller is now in jeopardy after previous clashes with New Zealand Racing Board authorities.

Stipendiary steward Mike Austin became concerned about Martin when he struggled to mention more than a couple of dogs in some of his early calls, in contrast to his usual accurate and entertaining descriptions.

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

"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 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, declined to comment last night.

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- Sunday Star Times

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