Free Entry To Rosehill Gardens On Bookmakers Recognition Day (Sat, 27th Apr)

Australian Turf Club and NSW Bookmakers Cooperative will recognise bookmakers past and present as part of this Saturday’s meeting at Rosehill Gardens.

General Admission entry to Rosehill Gardens is free – an initiative sponsored by the NSW Bookmakers Cooperative – for the sixth annual Bookmakers Recognition Day on a 10-race card which has attracted 166 entries.

Four bookmakers in Phillip PiconeDennis JamiesonMatt Behrmann and Luke Lucas – with a combined 193 years of experience as licensed on-course operators – will be formally recognised and have races named in tribute.

The NSW Bookmakers Cooperative who will also be part of a special brunch and function ahead of the raceday.

Chairman of the NSW Bookmakers Cooperative David Dwyer said the four bookmakers along with their many colleagues across NSW added great colour and attraction to racedays.

“On track bookmakers have been a major part of Sydney racing for over 150 years and have matched their opinions with punters in a sometimes winner take all game,” Mr Dwyer said.

“ATC meetings have the strongest betting rings in Australia with the largest minimums and limits for all punters.

“Several of the bookmakers being honoured on Saturday work in rural NSW regions and without them non-TAB and often picnic races wouldn’t be viable for owners and punters.

“The Cooperative and bookmakers are very grateful to the Australian Turf Club for this recognition day which is the only one of its type in the nation.”

Australian Turf Club Head Of Racing and Wagering, James Ross said bookmakers were an essential part of a day at the races: “We are delighted to have grown this day over the past six years to recognise how important bookmakers are to the track,” Mr Ross said.

“This has been a first for Australian racing and comes as ATC continues to offer punters the best value in wagering along with initiatives such as Punters Packs with special ticketing prices and incentives to be on course.

“We are grateful to the Cooperative in adding to the value of the day and sponsoring the free entry for customers. ATC courses have the strongest betting rings in the country and provide the best odds for punters.”

Biographies for the four bookmakers follow:


In 2024 Matt Behrmann is recognised for 50 years as a licensed oncourse operator. Not being raised with any significant family influences in racing or wagering, Matt began working on Saturday race meetings as a way to earn extra money to support his young family.

Beginning with clerking roles in 1975 and then a under an AJC No.2 license granted in 1976, a move to Port Macquarie in 1981 saw Matt focus on all Mid North Coast Saturday meetings for the next 15 years.

In 1995 Matt began fielding more regularly at AJC and now ATC meetings, since 2010 basing himself from stands outside of the main ring where he can offer odds from all venues to a wider demographic of punter.

Operating under the rule to always “let the punter make the mistake”, Matt has prided himself on his professional approach to both his presentation and service. Of course, this hasn’t meant that he’s dodged all the hits – a dominant win by the mighty Winx in the 2015 Cox Plate at the odds of 9/2 stung him to the tune of $34,000, thankfully his biggest ever payout.

With the oncourse environment negatively impacted by the recent covid period and subsequent economic headwinds, Matt’s outlook for bookmaking is not the brightest. However, though no longer needing to work to support his family, Matt aims to continue to field as regularly as possible simply for the enjoyment of a day on track.


Luke Lucas is recognised for 50 years as a licenced bookmaker in 2024 and over 65 years working on racetracks.

In 1949 Luke’s father, Leo, took up a stand at the first night trotting meeting held at Harold Park. Some 10 years later, at the age of 14, Luke joined him on course as a clerk.

A memory from 1966 sticks with him. The Inter Dominion final was held at Harold Park just a few days after the introduction of decimal currency. Due to punters now betting in dollars instead of pounds, but failing to make the necessary value calculation, the turnover was effectively halved!

In 1975 Luke commenced fielding in his own name, working at the Appin greyhound meetings on Saturdays betting on Sydney and interstate gallops. He would then drive to the Penrith greyhounds meeting and field on the dogs.

In 1995 Luke was granted a metropolitan license by the AJC and commenced fielding at all Sydney meetings. He now operates on most Saturdays servicing the punters outside of the main rings and has served on the board of the NSW Bookmakers Co-Op since 2011.

To Luke, the nature of the oncourse environment has changed. Crowds now tend to be the younger set, out for the day out rather than to bet. Most punters are now off course and it is the market on Betfair that Luke uses as the best guide of where the strong money is going.

In recent years Luke’s son Leon has taken up the bag alongside him, a third generation of Lucas on track. They hope there is life in the game for a while yet.


Country bookmaker Phillip Picone is recognised for his fielding as a bookmaker for over 45 years. There was likely little choice in Phillip becoming a bookmaker with a family steeped in the action oncourse.

With his grandfather a bookie, his father, John, a prominent bookie (who once duelled with no less a punter than Frank “Hong Kong Tiger” Duval), as well as his uncles Bob and Bruce there were already a few in the family before Phillip and his brothers, Chris, Terry and Dennis all took up the bag. There was even a cousin who fielded for a while!

Kicking off at Inverell on Boxing Day 1977, Phillip has predominantly operated in the Hunter and North West District through his career, with a focus on the carnival and cup days and the odd trip to Newcastle.

Though Phillip has always enjoyed his time on course, noting “there’s never a bad day at the track”, it is his efforts on the other side of the fence as an owner/punter that have stood out in his time. In particular, a horse he owned called Horology enabled a successful ‘sting’ operation at the Grafton Cup meeting in 1995 where he managed to get one over his colleagues on the bags with a very profitable plunge.

Prominent punters through his days included “Snow” Carrigan and Frank Gallen (who once single handedly backed a maiden winner from 12/1 into 6/4) but Phillip makes special mention of the ‘Prince of Punters’ Ray Hopkins, a fearless force at Country Cup meets but always a gentleman while taking on the bagmen.

Though Phillip wished that the corporate bookmakers took some of the risks those oncourse do, where cash was king and the anonymous punters was to be both attracted and feared, he believes there is still great value to be had by all in analysing form and successfully backing a winner.


Dennis Jamieson is recognised for his fielding as a bookmaker for 48 years.

His interest was piqued when, as a young footballer on end of season trips to Sydney, he would venture to the races and become mesmerised observing the bookies and clerks skilfully servicing the large number of punters in the ring.

In 1976, at the age of 24, Dennis took out a license and began fielding in West Wyalong with his more experienced clerk Bill Kirkwood promising to help out until someone else was found. This ‘help’ lasted for over 30 years!

Fielding predominantly in the Southern Districts of NSW, Dennis has also taken stands at Darwin Cup, Coffs Harbour and Louth meetings, sometimes in the same week! He has fielded at 76 race clubs in his time (including trotting tracks), with many good friends made along the way from fellow bagmen through to the invariable coat pullers of the track.

While many memories have been made, a picnic race at Lockhart stands out for Dennis. There were only two runners in the race yet they managed to dead heat, with the trophy’s destination decided by a coin flip!

Dennis believes that the injection of prizemoney across NSW racing in recent years is nothing short of super for the industry. He notes though that the life blood of non TAB meetings to the rural communities, and the opportunities they provide for a wider range of horses to run, mean that they should not be forgotten as a key part of the industry in future.


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