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PODCAST: A lap of Caulfield Park – Ashley speaks with race caller Ralph Horowitz

Dashiel Lawrence
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Published: 29 October 2020

Last updated: 4 March 2024

Ashley talks to popular race caller Ralph “Racetrack Ralphy” Horowitz, about horses, the Footy Show, cancel culture and his family's extraordinary history in Poland, now the subject of a new book


FOR RALPH HOROWITZ, the story of how his paternal grandparents escaped from Europe during the Holocaust was one of fascination and a source of family pride.

But he didn’t think it was particularly unique.

But for his wife, leading journalist and writer Sue Smethurst, it was an incredible tale and one that needed to be told.

The result is the recently-published The Freedom Circus, which tells the story of Mindla and Kubush Horowitz, a famous circus performer in pre-war Poland and their journey through the USSR, the Middle East and Africa before finally arriving in Australia.

For Ralph, a well-known TV and producer, podcaster and racing identity, it is a source of marital bliss but also amusement that it took his non-Jewish wife to make him understand that his family story was not only unique but one that needed to be widely shared.

“It was a bizarre story,” he told Ashley Browne in the latest Lap of Caulfield Park podcast, presented by The Jewish Independent and the Jewish Museum of Australia. “But I’d heard so many stories like it that I took it in my stride but when Sue and I started going out, she thought it was an amazing story and it became her passion project.

“She always wanted to write a book about my grandparents. When we first met my grandmother was still alive…I didn’t think their story was quite unusual. It was unique but not that unusual.”

Sue began interviewing Mindla Horowitz over the last few years of her life while she was living at the Montefiore Home (she died five years ago) and Ralph and Sue then travelled to Poland last year to research the book. During the podcast, he describes the treasure trove of information they found one day at a clown museum located just outside Warsaw.

Kubush Horowitz, as it turns out, was very well known.

In the most wide-ranging Lap of Caulfield Park podcast yet, Ralph also discusses

  • Leaving the Jewish day school system to attend the ‘rough and tumble’ Caulfield Technical School, with “swastikas carved into every second desk”.

  • His dashed hopes of becoming a trainer and how he got his break in the media, while working as a builders’ labourer.

  • Working on The Footy Show in its glory days in the late 90s.

  • Will he ever see a Melbourne AFL premiership?

  • The case for horse racing and his latest venture as a form analyst.

  • His recent experience with ‘cancel culture’.

  • Do’s and don’ts of social media.

The Freedom Circus
By Sue Smethurst
RRP: $34.99
Penguin Australia

Listen here or find the podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast or your favourite podcast provider.

About the author

Dashiel Lawrence

Dr Dashiel Lawrence is the Executive Director of TJI. A graduate of the Jewish Studies program at the University of Melbourne, he has been writing about Australia's Jewish diaspora for 15 years. His books include Australia and Israel: A Diasporic, Political and Cultural Relationship (2015) and People of the Boot: The Triumphs and Tragedy of Australian Jews in Sport (2018).

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