I called the Melbourne Cup Day races at Nowra yesterday…for the last time.
I’m giving it away.
Well the biggest single reason is that I’m not very good at it.
I’m a crap racecaller.
As well as being supremely colourblind, I’m pretty much blind anyway. I started calling races as a kid virtually on a dare. I’d been told that there was no physical way I could undertake this task without being able to see colours and I wanted to prove them all wrong.
As a kid most of the racecalling I did was harness racing and I can pull that off. Harness racing is usually conducted on smaller racetracks. I’m close enough to the action at harness racing tracks to accurately describe what’s happening.
In recent years I’ve bluffed my way into calling thoroughbred races. I’ve been calling the trials at Thoroughbred Park as well as race meetings at Queanbeyan, Nowra and Binda. Most of the time I sound as though I know what’s happening, but I don’t really. I can’t see them. I’m bluffing 30% of the time and it’s not going to get any better. If anything it’s getting worse as my eyes deteriorate further.
There are occasions when, mainly by luck, I nail it completely, but in most of my racecalls, particularly those involving more than 7 or 8 horses there are glaring errors. I’ve had fun and I’m most pleased that I had the chance to do it, but I think I’m done.
I was sucked back into calling the gallops back in 2010 after about 15 or 20 years out of the game. Thoroughbred Park called me and asked me if I could call their barrier trials. My first response was, “No.” I told them that I can’t really see them well enough. I was convinced to have a go. I had a rather embarrassing day in late 2010 when Sky Channel made an emergency call to me to call a TAB meeting at Queanbeyan. It wasn’t pretty. I managed to call the correct horses over the line in each race, but as for knowing where your horse was in the run, well good luck.
I think I always figured I’d keep on improving at this race calling caper. I was wrong.
I advised Peter Stubbs at Thoroughbred Park last month that I was no longer calling their barrier trials. I’ve told the Shoalhaven Turf Club that I won’t be returning for Melbourne Cup Day. Queanbeyan have engaged another caller for Boxing Day. At this stage I’m still penciled in to call Binda in March next year, but I daresay that will be the last.
I think I’m getting old.