HE’S not exactly a household identity, but when it comes to horse knowledge, reminiscing the past and telling tall tales, there is a reason Graeme Wilson is referred to as ‘Guru’.
With more than six decades of industry memories, Wilson is rarely far from a “back in the old days” or “there was this bloke/horse” moment as drops names and anecdotes with the greatest of ease.
Like the time a trotter was a certainty so the money was on, or the night some shenanigans took centre stage in the stabling area and how a bloke was a genius – or mug – when it came to training.
“I’ve always loved horses, but it was when we moved to Lalor when I was 14 or 15 in the early 1960s that I took a shining to harness racing,” Wilson said. “That’s when I met up with Neil and Dot Evans.
“Their oldest daughter was my age and that’s how I found my way to their stable.
“Neil was a builder by trade, but was a successful trainer who specialised in trotters and a very good blacksmith too.
“He was in five or six Inter Dominions and ran a few placings.
“I’ve been around the game ever since then and have a preference for trotters because of Neil.
“Funnily enough, Neil was in the army with my Dad, which I found out after I’d met him.”
Along with training the “odd one here and there,” Wilson has been associated with numerous stables, particularly the Hoban family.
It is that long connection which resulted in Wilson making his latest trip to the winners’ circle in Charlton last week.
Proving too slick during her second Australian start, Cyclone Kadabramelia led throughout from barrier four to score by two metres from Mystery Love, with Frankythefrenchman three metres away third.
Driven by John Caldow, the daughter of Kadabra rated 2:04.9 over 2100 metres.
“I’ve trained a few throughout the years for some moderate success,” Wilson said. “I’ve been mates with Shane (Hoban) since we were kids…probably longer than either of us want to remember!
“Shane has Amelia settled in really well and she is pretty much a fool proof trotter, which is always a plus.”
Citing Stephen Dove’s ungraceful fall from the sulky as the funniest industry moment he has witnessed, Wilson fondly recalls a few triumphant days on the punt.
“The day the shaft extensions came out on Stephen Dove in Kilmore, tipping him backwards is still the funniest thing I’ve seen,” Wilson said.
“I remember we backed a trotter at the old Healesville track one day and the trainer, owner and I were counting the money out in the carpark.
“If you won 150 quid in those days you felt like a millionaire.
“There have been a few good collects over the years when we knew a horse was right and there have been a few times when the plunge hasn’t come off either!
“It was a lot more fun when they had bookmakers as you’d see the ring move and everyone knew about it when it happened, these days you don’t really here about it much with the tote.”
As for Cyclone Kadabramelia, Wilson is certain the four-year-old can make her way through the grades.
“Shane found her in New Zealand and it looks like we should have a bit of fun with her,” Wilson said.