22 March 1998

King mixes it with princes and paupers


"THE RACE TRACK is where the prince and the pauper can lose money side-by-side," announced racing innocent and king of drive-time radio, Mike Carlton.

Carlton was officiating for his new bosses, 2UE, who sponsored yesterday's Todman Slipper Trial.

Also on the agenda for the award-winning journalist was judging the fashions in the field and general swanning around with the toffs and hoi polloi who collect at Rosehill during the Autumn Carnival time.

Carlton might claim to be wet behind the ears turf-wise, but the silver-tongued radio rogue proved a smooth operator. After handing out a crystal bowl to the winning owners of Laurie's Lottery, Carlton waltzed across the saddling enclosure to greet TRB chairman Bob Charley like he was a candidate for his soon-to-be-vacant AJC Committee spot.

As the two chatted like old pals, Charley broached the issue of staff relations at 2UE, prompting Carlton to reply "all the hatchets have been buried . . . into a few skulls".

Later, Carlton intimated that on-air rival Alan Jones expressed mock disgust that Carlton, who favours jeans and t-shirts, would be asked by the STC to judge a fashion parade.

Judging by some of the fashions, it was not an inappropriate choice.

In his sojourn in England in the early 90s, Carlton had a brief brush with the turf at Royal Ascot. How does it compare with "republican" Rosehill? "Ascot was extremely dull; you had to be on your best behaviour, whereas here there is a nice Aussie flavour.

"A day at the races is the quintessential Australian experience.

"The races are a veritable smorgasbord for a people-watcher like me - the triumph and despair of it all."

Apart from Ascot, Carlton professes to an afternoon at the Wagga Picnic Races in the '70s to be his only other brush with the turf.

In company with Carlton was his old buddy Peter Luck, who was inexplicably shooting some home video of his former ABC compatriot during the judging of the fashions.

"I don't come to the races, either," said Luck, "but it's a beautiful day, isn't it?".

Luck's only link with racing was his father-in-law, the late Norm Anderson, a Sydney rails bookie. 

Luck's smile sat frozen on his face as he watched his old mate scratch his head during the judging of outfits which inexplicably would seem more appropriate for the evening than a sweltering day out Parramatta way where the horses run free and the celebrities learn what wonders are to be had in the vicinity of a tote window.

Date: 22/03/1998
Words: 469
Publication: Sun Herald
Section: Sport
Page: 82

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