In a contemporary world where people often complain of being time-poor, Max Simmonds was something of an enigma. He lived a busy life but he had time and loved a joke or a quick hello and conversation. He was generous with his time for people and would make them feel at ease.
Simmonds was endeared, not only by the racing fraternity - but by all of those he met. He called his first race in 1954 after being the understudy to Keith Gollan and called his first Perth Cup in 1961.
During the 1960s, 70s and 80s Simmonds gave his review of the Saturday races at Belmont Park and Ascot in prime time on the ABC’s Today’s Racing at 7.15pm.
Through ABC radio, his accurate race descriptions were heard by punters in the city and regional WA and when the ABC dropped its race day broadcasts in the 1990s, Simmonds stayed as the principal oncourse broadcaster.
He was made a life member of the Broome Turf Club, Port Hedland Turf Club and Nor-West Jockey Club. He also was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the WA Racehorse Owners Association in 2008 for his record breaking 42 consecutive Perth Cup calls.
Simmonds tireless voluntary work for outer country clubs is unlikely ever to be equalled.
He was recognised in 1985 by the WA Turf Club for his achievements as Racing’s Personality of the Year. He called 43 consecutive Broome Cups, 33 Port Hedland Cups, 23 Wittenoon Cups, 22 Roebourne Cups, 10 Newman Cups, eight Derby Cups, four Kunnunarra Cups, four Landor Cups and Cups at Exmouth and Wyndham.
With interests that reached beyond the racetrack, Simmonds was made a lifetime member of the Midland-Guildford Cricket Club and Midland Football Club for his administrative roles.
Known as ‘the accurate one’ in WA for his uncanny ability to pick the winners before the winning post and to select the winner in blanket finishes, the ever-modest Simmonds put down this ability to select the winner in a tight finish to a wire, which stretched from his broadcast box window to the winning post. Simmonds’ dulcet tone and his accuracy for the horses’ positions, during his calling of a race, were admired by punters and he never missed a race meeting in 50 years of calling through illness.
Upon his retirement after calling his 42nd Perth Cup in 2003, Simmonds continued his involvement in racing as the caller of trials at Lark Hill and outer-country tracks like Broome and as assistance judge at provincial meetings to Daryl Dall.
For 35 years Simmonds took WA racing tours to overseas destinations such as Singapore, Japan, Malaysia and New Zealand, and he worked hard to promote racing, both domestically and internationally. His work in print media included being subeditor for general news and racing writer for the now defunct Sunday Independent, and his work to record the margins of unplaced gallopers in Sports Action’s form guide was picked up by racing publications around the world, having previously being unrecorded. He owned eleven racehorses in partnership and bought his first horse Lucretia’s Lad in 1983. Another purchase, Rindless, won 16 races.
Simmonds was prevented from calling the Broome round in 2015 because of illness and died in January 2016.