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  • Provincial Racing NSW


LIKE father, like daughter.

The four decades plus clerk of the course dynasty on Provincial tracks of a well-known family continues – but with a change.

After more than 40 years saddling up on race days, 69-year-old CLIFF PARKER has handed the reins to daughter CANDICE CARROLL.

And the 41-year-old horse woman is planning on upholding the family tradition for as long as she can.

“I love it,” she said. “I love being out in the sun (when it’s not raining on racedays of course) and helping people, and working with Luke Moy (fellow clerk of the course).”

The clerk of the course role at all racetracks is vitally important – yet rarely given enough recognition – and Carroll is fully aware of her responsibilities.

“The best part about our job is doing our utmost to help participants by keeping them safe,” she said.

“It’s an hour’s drive from our property at Glendon, but I very much look forward to Newcastle race meetings.”

Carroll has been working at Newcastle for two years; the result of her father undergoing hip surgery in June 2021.

“Horses are such an integral part of my life, and always have been,” she said.

“I started riding as soon as I could and the only time, I haven’t been on a horse was when I was pregnant (with now 9-year-old son Logan).

“I’ve kept my maiden name in the racebook as racing people pretty well know me as Cliff’s daughter.”

Carroll’s race day “mate” is an eight-year-old grey gelding named Roger.

“Dad was on the lookout for another grey for use as a clerk of the course’s horse, and initially we got his half-brother Skeeter.

“Unfortunately, he didn’t measure up for what was required and the Central West lady who owned both horses didn’t want to part with Roger, but eventually agreed to sell him when she knew what we wanted him for and how well we looked after our horses.”

Carroll had a busy introduction to her role as her first day on the job was at The Coast Saturday stand-alone meeting at Gosford two years ago.

Being a Metropolitan meeting, three clerks of the course were required – and the Glendon horsewoman got the call-up.

It is no surprise that Carroll has fitted into the role as though she has been doing the job all her life.

Her father Cliff is a master horseman who has never done anything by halves.

He spent 33 years in his “real” job as Regional Manager of Australian Hearing before retiring, 25 years as the Newcastle Knights’ mascot on horseback, and nearly half a century as a mounted steward in the horse section of Sydney’s famous Royal Easter Show, let alone his lengthy clerk of the course duties on a number of Provincial tracks along with Cessnock.

Such was his commitment and dedication as a green coat mounted steward that he not only has life membership of the Royal Agricultural Society (which runs the show), but he and his trusty clerk of the course steed Twix were both afforded Show Legend status four years ago.

“It was both a great honour and a real surprise as I knew nothing about it beforehand,” Cliff Parker said. “The most pleasing aspect was that Twix was given the award along with me as I couldn’t do the job without him.

“He became the first animal to be given Show Legend status.

“I have also used another horse Bank at Sydney Royal, and both have been clerk of the course ponies.

“They have to be versatile, and have always done the same top job at the Show as at the track.”

Kurri Kurri-born Parker got his first pony when he was eight-years-old. His Dad paid 100 pounds (a lot of money then) for a grey mare called Shadow, but he wasn’t allowed to ride her in a saddle straight away.

“Dad wouldn’t let me do that until he felt I was ready,” he recalled. “So I rode her bareback for 12 months. There were some days when my skin was red raw.

“Eventually I got to put a saddle on Shadow and often rode her to school.”

Parker officiated at his first race meeting as a clerk of the course at Newcastle’s Broadmeadow racecourse in March, 1976.

He says that having recovered fully from the hip replacement, he is in semi-retirement as a clerk of the course, and will help out on major racedays such as the spring carnival and The Hunter at Newcastle when three clerks are required.

“I’m doing some work driving a float a few days a week helping out Torryburn Stud, and anyway, Candice is doing a terrific job, and I’m really pleased about that.”

HOOFNOTE: Whilst a female clerk of the course isn’t rare but not all that common either, Candice Carroll is versatile to say the least! She also features on the large Newcastle Jockey Club billboard which advertises upcoming race meetings.

That eventuated from her success on racing’s other side of the fence in the Best Dressed Lady competition at the NJC’s Fashions On The Field awards pre-COVID at the 2019 spring carnival.

“My husband Tom and I also won the Best Dressed Couple award last year,” Carroll added.

Needless to say, racing’s most stylish clerk of the course will be missing from the track on the second day of this year’s spring carnival in September.

“It’s the one day I ask to get off work,” Carroll said. “It’s Ladies’ Day and as much as I love being a clerk of the course, I also love getting dressed up and enjoying a champagne or two.”

Though the Parker dynasty on the track continues, there seems little chance son Logan will follow in his mother and grandfather’s footsteps.

“Logan’s more interested in a different horsepower,” Mum said. “He and his Dad are dirt bike junkies.”

*Words John Curtis May 23, 2023 - Pics Kathy Challen*

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May 23, 2023

Very proud of Cliff and Candice and the whole clerk team (Luke) at Newcastle, they do a great job.

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