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$50,000 hotseat “fluke” for Kyabram local

By Kyabram Free Press

HE DESCRIBED it as a “$50,000 fluke” but Brendan Clements has ridden enough winners to know you never look a gift horse in the mouth.

Brendan successfully negotiated the three Hot Seat questions on Eddie Maguire’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire Hot Seat quiz show on Channel 9 last week to claim the cash.

In racing parlance the bubbly, 59-year-old former star jockey “came home with a wet sail” after answering only two of 15 preliminary round questions leading into the Hot Seat segment.

“If the questions aren’t about horses or trams I can struggle a bit at times, and I honestly fluked them (three Hot Seat questions),” Brendan admitted candidly.
But Brendan disclosed some detective work with his father helped him change his mind at the last second on one of the Hot Seat questions.

“As a regular watcher of the show, dad noticed Eddie has a saying we think is some sort of  signal the answer you have given is wrong,” he said.

“So when he asked that I quickly changed my answer and luckily it was right choice.”

Brendan said one of the tough things about getting on the show is not telling anyone how you went there.

It is taped months before it goes to air and I had to sign about eight documents that I wouldn’t tell anyone how I went and as I had asked dad (Kyabram’s Brian Clements) to come he had to keep it a secret as well. 

“If any contestant reveals what happens before it goes to air, they pull it off and strip them of any prizemoney they win – but people who knew I had been on kept asking how I went.

“Dad and mum (Dawn) in Kyabram were asked frequently and I was the same with my workmates;  I just had to say they were pretty tough questions and leave it that.”

Brendan, who admitted winning about $80 on a radio quiz show in Perth when living there, said that was his only previous experience on a quiz show.
“We saw on TV they were asking about potential contestants so I applied and it went from there.”

He finally got the nod to appear after two auditions.

“I think what helped was when the producers asked me what I did for a living and I told them I was former jockey who had ridden in eight Melbourne Cups and was now a tram driver who has had two years on the Melbourne Restaurant Tram it was good enough for them. 

“I had done alright in the auditions as well.”

Brendan said the show was taped at a studio in Docklands on May 16. 

Brendan, who calls Kyabram home these days, is developing a farmlet at Lancaster and said the $50,000 would “come in very handy” to continue this pursuit.

“I’m also a friend of Mick Blackmore (local trots trainer) so I’m hoping I can help him out a bit when I retire from the trams and move to Kyabram permanently,” he added.

“Our family just loves Kyabram and its people.”

He also loves the golf here and is now a regular at Kyabram’s Parkland Golf Club on his days off. 

Brendan rode in eight Melbourne Cups with his best result a fifth on Arwon in 1981 (it had won the Cup in 1979).

Born and raised in New Zealand he followed his father Brian into racing as a jockey. His family moved to Australia in the late 1970s and Brendan made an immediate impact on the Australian racing scene, winning the Victorian Apprentice Jockey of Year award in 1980. 

He rode 350 career winners, including eight Group 1 winners. He also rode five winners in England and in his first ride there he tipped out a horse ridden by the legendary English jockey Lester Piggott (who won more than 4400 races in his career) in a photo finish.

He was runner-up in the Cox Plate on a horse called Grosvenor, finished behind the legendary Kingston Town in a race made famous by legendary commentator Bill Collins, who declared at one stage “Kingston Town can’t win”.

His one big regret as a jockey was that although he had 40 tries, he failed to win a race in his native New Zealand.

But he survived some bad falls – and despite being pronounced dead on two occasions proved those diagnoses were a bit premature.