One of Queensland’s best-known racing administrators in handicapper Lester Grimmett will retire on Tuesday.
Grimmett, 73, has been a handicapper with the Queensland Turf Club and Racing Queensland for 50 years.
He was one of the last links to a golden age of Queensland racing still working in the industry.
Grimmett started in the industry in 1968, taking notes at stewards’ inquiries for the Queensland Turf Club on a part-time basis.
By 1973 he had risen through the ranks to become an assistant handicapper for the QTC and seven years later was appointed head handicapper.
Grimmett was the handicapper when Queensland horses such as Strawberry Road, Vo Rogue, Chief De Beers, Starcraft, St Jude, Falvelon and Show A Heart were national stars.
When the QTC was replaced by RQ, Grimmett was retained as chief handicapper and he oversaw many changes.
In 2003, Grimmett’s role as chief handicapper saw him lead the introduction of a centralised system to cover Queensland, a role in which he served until 2015.
Affectionately known as ‘The Cat’, Grimmett stepped aside five years ago to move into a part-time role, which he has since occupied through until his retirement.
“I grew up with a passion for the industry, and can remember going to the track as early as four years old with my mother, so to work in an industry I have always loved was a dream come true,” Grimmett said.
“I’ve had the pleasure of handicapping the likes of Chief De Beers and Vo Rogue; I think I got Vo Rogue beat one day by allocating him what proved to be too much weight.
“I just want to be remembered as a good handicapper, someone who did the job well and got the weights right.”
Grimmett will remain a regular racegoer in his retirement.
“I loved every day of it, I walked in there early days and couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be getting paid to work in an industry I love.
“To do that for nearly 52 years is a privilege and an honour.”