The Art of Being a Great Horse Race Caller
Race callers and auctioneers are very similar in a number of ways. They both need to be able to hype things up and both need to learn how to talk fast and accurately as things draw to a climax.
In Australian thoroughbred racing there have been many a great race caller over the years, both on radio and TV. It’s definitely an art form in its own unique way, and maybe not everybody could do it effectively.
So what are some of the key traits that a race caller must have or learn? What are the secrets that make them so good at their job?
A Love of Sport Certainly Helps
Every sport has commentators and callers, and not all of these commentators have previously been professionals themselves in the sports they call. However, having a keen interest in the sport they’re calling, and sport in general, certainly goes a long way towards ensuring a successful career as a caller.
Calling horse racing is a lot like calling an Olympic event. The race builds and builds to a climax, and so too does the call.
Some race callers don’t just restrict their careers to calling weekend thoroughbred racing. They’ll also branch out and call other sports, such as swimming meets, athletics, tennis and so on; either in Australia or abroad.
Preparation Is the Vital Key To Successful Calling
Whether a caller is calling a huge race like the Melbourne Cup, or the local derby, preparation is the key to a good call, according to experts such as Matt Hill.
Matt creates what he calls his “cheat sheet” the day before race day. On this he has details about the horses, what colours they’ll have on for the race, their last runs and more. He studies this for hours the day before, so when the racing starts, he already has a head start on this vital information, and also won’t make a mistake by calling the wrong horse.
It’s not all about calling the actual races either. Commentators also talk about racing between races, preview races, and dissect races that have already been run.
The obvious conclusion here is that you can’t be a good race caller unless you know your stuff and are in touch with the latest stats and data.
Good and thorough preparation is the key to that.
Know When To Switch On and Switch Off
Calling a horse race can be pretty intense for just a few minutes at a time. Callers need to concentrate hard during the race to make sure everything about the call is both accurate as well as exciting.
This kind of concentration is at a new level and not something that can be maintained for lengthy periods. In order to be on top of their game for the next call, race callers really need to switch off and relax a little between races or they’ll burn out halfway through a race day and possibly start making blunders due to a lack of concentration.
Either that, or the race will sound humdrum due to a complete lack of enthusiasm on the caller’s part.
Race calling is definitely a switch on, switch off kind of profession. Punters are not very forgiving if the caller calls the wrong horse past the finish post. It’ll probably be one of the quickest ways out of a job.
Be Confident, Be Bold
When a horse race starts and the thoroughbreds and jockeys bolt out of the gates, it’s not a time or place for anyone to be timid.
Race callers need to exude confidence in the calling , speak loud and clear and be bold. It’s not an easy task for sure, knowing all those horses, constantly updating racing positions as the equine athletes gallop at high speed around the track.
This all comes down to hard work and dedication to learning and perfecting the craft of racehorse calling. It’s obvious that it helps enormously if the caller has both a passion for the sport, as well as a passion for commentary in general.
Race calling isn’t all about hype and excitement. Just as important is preparation and accuracy to be a champion caller.
Article by listener, Craig Evans