THE clerk of the Albury racecourse has been a real Cossor family affair for more than 40 years.
John Cossor, 72, started the tradition in 1968 before his sons, Tim and Lachie, followed in his footsteps.
Tim, 44, first joined his father as the clerk’s helper when he was only a 12-year-old. These days, he performs the duty each race day with brother Lachie, 42.
Youngest brother, Sam, 38, has also been a clerk – the three worked together at last year’s Albury Gold Cup.
“We were dad’s offsiders and if I wasn’t available, Lachie would fill in,” Tim said yesterday.
“It was like that for years before dad retired in the mid-1990s and now it is Lachie and me.
“I remember the first time Lachie and I did it together — I had just got my P-plates after turning 18 and Lachie was 16.
“And we have done every meeting since.”
John said he was proud his sons had chosen to follow in his footsteps.
“The boys go all right,” he said.
“Tim and Lachie can both break in horses and Sam is a capable horseman but his work doesn’t allow him to get to the races as often as he would like.”
John was a keen punter in his early days and, as a clerk, there was no shortage of tips from all the trainers and jockeys.
“When I first started as clerk of the course I used to get $25 a day,” he said.
“I used to bet but I wasn’t much good at it and I always ended up working for nothing.
“It got to the stage where I would be giving the bookies my days wages and would go home with a sore backside and no money.
“So I quit betting and didn’t have a bet for years.
“You either work at the races or bet — you can’t do both.”
The veteran horseman said the gradual decline of the blacksmith’s role on race day was the most notable change from when he first started.
“The biggest change is the blacksmith’s hammer,” John said.
“When I started, the blacksmith used to shoe all the horses on race day.
“If you were looking for the blacksmith, you only had to stand still for a second and you would hear his hammer.
“Now days, they come to the races in their shoes and there is a blacksmith at the barrier only in case they need re-shoeing.”
John rates Jack Freyer, all the Hoysteds from Wangaratta, Les Harrison and Bill Butts as the standout trainers in his time at Albury racecourse.
And Norm Dickens, Wagga jockey Frank McIntyre and Pat Fagan were his leading riders.
“Patty Fagan was an outstanding jockey,” John said.
“He tragically got killed near Gundagai when he was riding a young horse.
“He hit his head on a tree when in his late 20s.
“Jack Freyer won five Albury cups and all were outstanding horses and great stayers.”
Tim fondly remembers Albury Gold Cup day in 1985 when he was a teenager after the Richard Freyer-trained Major Quarry took out the feature race.
“It was in the days when everyone would meet after the last and have a decent drink and fill-up,” Tim said.
“Jack Freyer had a truckload of horses including his grey horse Major Quarry.
“Jack had quite a few celebratory drinks and someone said: ‘Jack are you going to be right to drive home’.”
Freyer, who was known for his sense of humour, had a witty reply.
“I will tell you something,” Freyer had said.
“No one will pass me on the inside and very few will pass me on the outside.”
John estimated he has attended close to 60 Albury cups but he will miss this year in one of the rare times in his life.
The horse-lover is battling a hip complication and is bed-ridden at Myrtleford hospital for at least 10 weeks.
“I’ve been going to the cup since I was 13,” he said.
“I’ve missed only the odd couple here and there, but I won’t be able to go on Friday.
“But I will still tune in on the radio and I’ve organised Tim to drop me in the race book after the meeting.
“I’ll miss going but I’m already looking forward to next year.”
The Cossors know a thing or two about racing. Brent Godde talks to the father and sons about how they have steered the horses safely to the barriers and back to the mounting yard for more than 40 years in their role as Albury’s clerks of the course.