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JACK MARSHALL – STEWARDS’ ROLE A GREAT OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE


JACK Marshall always wanted to be involved in the racing industry from the time as a youngster he began going to trackwork with his godfather, Newcastle trainer Steve Hodge.

But he never envisaged his career path would lead him to becoming an important member of the RacingNSW stewards’ panel.

“With Mum (Fran) and Dad (Brad) having such a close involvement in racing, I grew up around it and guess I was destined to also be involved in some manner,” 27-year-old Marshall said.

“But this certainly came right out of the blue.

““I had another racing job in Sydney which ended, and saw this advertisement pop up in regard to a stewards’ position.

“After speaking with experienced stewards such as Jack Penfold, who is a family friend and now general manager of Tamworth Jockey Club, and Sam Woolaston, I decided to throw my hat in the ring.”

Marshall landed the job as a cadet steward four years ago and started in Sydney under the then chairmanship of Marc Van Gestel, now policing Hong Kong racing.

“That was good experience, and also when subsequently working with former Hunter and North-West chief steward Shane Cullen at Tamworth,” he said.

“I spent a couple of years with Shane, and worked for a brief time there as proxy head steward when Shane switched codes to the harness industry.”

Marshall relocated back to his home city of Newcastle last November as head steward in the northern Provincial area, replacing Damien Carr (who took up a position interstate as chief steward at Bendigo) and has undertaken a busy workload, and doing it with great aplomb.

Not only does he look after Newcastle, Wyong and Gosford meetings, but is also currently working at Muswellbrook and Scone fixtures pending the appointment of a new chief steward in the Hunter & North West Racing Association.

For good measure, he also works at occasional Sydney meetings.

Marshall says he felt he had a good general knowledge of thoroughbred racing when he became a steward, but admits the role has truly opened his eyes.

“There are so many different aspects to a stewards’ role, and as a result much to deal with,” he said. “You have to be able to communicate with all sections of the industry.

“The job is far more involved than just turning up on racedays. There is so much more to it.”

When we caught up with Marshall last Friday morning, he was beginning several hours’ work to formulate speed maps for his home track eight-race program the following day.

“We place a lot of emphasis on the speed maps,” he said.

“RacingNSW also employs specialists in Sydney who also do the speed maps on each meeting, and once finished we compare them and discuss areas where we might have disagreed.

“I also take notice of information provided by trainers and listen to radio interviews about changes to riding instructions, and then make the necessary adjustments.

“The stewards will also be certain to advise any changes of tactics on Twitter.”

Early morning track inspections by stewards on racedays are necessary only if wet weather has intervened in the lead-up,

“I have great trust in the racecourse managers in my area to post correct ratings, but obviously if there has been rain beforehand, we will make inspections irrespective of whether it means an early start to get to the tracks and provide trainers with the right advice before the 7.30am scratching deadline,” Marshall said.

Stewards’ reports published on the RacingNSW website do not always come under the attention of punters, but Marshall says they are an extremely important tool for all, especially very serious punters.

“The reports provide such great information about what has occurred in each race, particularly if a favorite hasn’t performed up to expectations and we are able to explain why.”

Marshall says getting the opportunity to have “front row seats” by working at major Sydney meetings such as the Golden Slipper, Doncaster Mile and The Everest is outstanding, and cited Winx’s farewell race at Royal Randwick in April 2019 as a moment he will forever remember.

“Winx had won the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Danny Greer (then fellow steward) and myself had come back from our stewards’ vantage points around the track, and were about to walk back across the course proper when Hugh Bowman was bringing her back to the enclosure,” he recalled.

“We just stood there and watched. It was unreal.”

Marshall later pleasantly discovered he and Greer were in the background in a photo taken of Winx’s return, and treasures a copy of that.


Unfortunately, falls are part and parcel of racing, and Marshall says he has witnessed a couple of bad ones involving Andrew Adkins at Randwick near the winning post during The Championships in 2019 (ironically on the same day as Winx’s farewell) and Christian Reith at Newcastle last year.

Nonetheless, he says he is fortunate to be working in a job in which he is thoroughly invested.

“I love it,” he said. “Racedays, especially the major ones, can be very stressful but they’re still fun days to be a part of.

“I’m also very lucky to be working with RacingNSW chief steward Steve Railton, whose experience is of course well known.

“But he is also someone you can ask for advice, and he is always happy to give it.

“Steve is very easy to get along with. He came up to the Scone carnival in May, and fitted in seamlessly.”

Marshall says he can highly recommend a stewards’ role to any young person seeking a good career opportunity.

“Obviously, it would be beneficial to have some basic racing knowledge, but not necessarily essential,” he said.

“It’s an industry where you can pick things up quickly, and it’s a great job.”

HOOFNOTE: RacingNSW stewards’ boss Steve Railton, happy for a story on Marshall to be written, told us the young Newcastle man “has come a long way in a relatively short time and is highly regarded”.

Glowing praise indeed!

*Words John Curtis, July 31, 2023 - Pics Steve Hart & Bradley Photographics*



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