Australia’s honours system has picked plenty of losers, but it has backed a winner in recognising Alan Thomas, who is one of the major reasons why Australia’s thoroughbred racing commentator ranks are the biggest and best of any country.

Awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in the Queen’s Birthday 2021 Honours List for his service to horse racing, Thomas retired from race calling on Boxing Day in 2015, but he did not walk away from the sport with which he is most closely associated. Thomas continues to run the academy for young racing commentators he founded during his days behind the binoculars, David Vandyke’s training operation benefits from his wide-ranging experience and he is a member of the Early Thoughts business network of racing and sports fans.

Josh Fleming, Mitch Manners and Luke Marlow are just three of the many up-and-coming Australian race callers whom Thomas has mentored, although none of them is as obsessed with alleys on Queensland tracks as their expert tutor.

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