A PRIEST walks into a Pub….
For most people that’s the beginning of a pun, but for the harness racing faithful, it’s likely to be the beginning of a punt!
Dating back as far as he can remember, Brian Glasheen has been a passionate student of the ‘trots’, enjoying all avenues the industry has to offer – including a wager at his local PubTAB.
What makes Glasheen unique among the vast majority of gamblers is his status as a Catholic Priest!
“I thoroughly enjoy having a bet,” Glasheen said. “I was born into harness racing and have always loved it and stayed involved.
“I’ve never been ripped on the knuckles or called in by the Archbishop, so there has never been a concern about my involvement in harness racing.
“I’d say it’s part of the Irish culture for the Catholic Priest to still enjoy a wager and the horses.”
Glasheen’s grandfather, Paddy, was a leading trainer, driver and breeder with Hall Of Fame trotter, Grand Voyage, his best performer.
A star during the 1920s, Grand Voyage captured the 1922 Otahuhu Cup beating New Zealand’s best pacers in the 1000 sovereign feature.
“My grandfather took him over to New Zealand for the race, which was 1000 sovereign and that equates to about $500,000 in today’s money,” Glasheen said. “He beat the best pacers they had to offer as a trotter.
“Through his Belmot Stud in Bendigo, which he owned with Harry Bust, my grandfather bred Grand Voyage which was by their American stallion First Voyage.”
Paddy’s three sons Jim, Ted and John – Glasheen’s father – also enjoyed a high rate of success with standardbreds, so it was natural a young Brian would follow the family business.
“I would be down at the stable watching my father and just wanted to be involved,” Glasheen recalled. “While still at school in about 1954 or ‘55, I got my driver’s licence.”
Although his career as a reinsman didn’t last long, Glasheen made an impact on the winners’ circle, scoring with San Adios at Healesville on Boxing Day 1963.
His win behind the mare has also provided Glasheen with an additional reason to recall the victory.
“My Dad and Gordan Rothacker both had several drives behind her, but didn’t win,” Glasheen said.
“As my Dad had a lot of city class horses, I only had about 10 race drives before I got the call to be a Priest and began seminary school in February 1964.
“Throughout the years I have driven in a number of celebrity races and won a few too!”
Glasheen spent four years studying at Werribee Park before a further four years at Glen Waverley, which led to him eventually settling in Bacchus Marsh, where he worked for more than three decades.
“I had no encouragement from my Mum or Dad to become a Priest, I felt that I got the call,” Glasheen recalled. “I wanted to help people and God wanted me to.
“I did by Corpus Christi in Werribee and Glen Waverley and was located in Bacchus Marsh for 34 years.”
Affectionately-known in racing circles as The Pacing Priest, Glasheen’s lifetime in harness racing will reach a high on Saturday night.
Thanks to his friends Shannon Nixon, Joel Watson and Shane Cook, Glasheen is a part-owner in Alexandra Park Inter Dominion finalist Triple Eight.
Glasheen was christened The Pacing Priest by a journalist who was promoting the first Inter Dominion mass in 1978.
“The three of them invited me out to dinner one night and after we finished eating handed me a form and said ‘sign this’,” Glasheen explained.
“I asked what it was and the told he they’d bought a share in Triple Eight and that I was having some of that.
“It was a wonderful gesture from them, and now after being part of harness racing for so long, I will have my first Inter Dominion runner.
“I’ve blessed all the colours for this year’s Final, but we might need a little extra help from such a terrible draw.”
To the disappointment of Glasheen and his fellow owners Triple Eight will begin from gate eight – the outside of the front row.
As such the Steve Telfer-trained gelding is one of the despised outsiders at $81 with TAB Fixed Odds.
Ultimate Sniper, the $1.40 favourite, has drawn barrier five.
“It’s almost an unwinnable draw,” Glasheen said. “He is going to need a lot to go his way just to run a placing.”