Horse racing is undoubtedly a complex sport that demands the involvement of several people. Jockeys, horses, and trainers are the visible participants everyone is familiar with. Still, there are many other lesser-known people like the track steward, placing judge, and identifier whose duties are central to the success of every race.
Horse racing commentators are also essential secondary actors whose involvement is crucial to races. Commentary brings races to life, but it is a high-octane activity where victory margins narrow and error margins are broader. Therefore, a lot of preparation occurs before the big races to ensure everything goes right. Here’s how much behind-the-scenes work goes into horse racing commentary.
- Perfecting Your Moving Identification Of The Horses
Horses have several distinguishing characteristics: white faces, nosebands, and colour patches, among others. Therefore, horse racing commentators work on perfecting their identification of horses in motion using these unique characteristics. As a commentator, you are always on the lookout for a speck of white on a hoof or mane, size differences, unique colours, and any other features that will help you pick out one horse over another in the heat of action.
Leading horse racing commentator Richard Hoiles, speaking to renowned football commentator Peter Drury in a Betway interview, discussed the essence of learning unique features to be on point during the big occasion. Drury recalled how he was able to identify Cristiano Ronaldo as the scorer of a goal in a Champions League game in Rome by just his red boots, a detail he picked up just ten minutes before kickoff. Hoiles agrees with him regarding the principle of seeing what no one else pays attention to for better accuracy during real-time commentary.
2. Calming The Nerves Of Anticipation
The Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot, Epsom Derby, and Grand National are among the biggest horse racing events in the UK and worldwide. These events are so big that commentators can’t help but sometimes be overwhelmed by the sense of occasion. There’s a lot of pressure to get things right due to the numerous individuals invested in these events, but it is crucial to calm one’s nerves for the big day. Every commentator practices a ritual that works for them, whether going on a long walk or meditating.
3. Sharpening Memory
Big events like the Cheltenham Festival can have up to 7 races a day, featuring about 90 horses. Therefore, horse racing commentators work on their recollection skills before d-day. Unfortunately, racing commentary has no retakes since everything happens quickly in real-time. As such, commentators practice being very accurate to trust their eyes and head when in action without looking at any notes.
4. Preparing For All Eventualities
According to commentators, about 85% of prepared material is wasted since you only play a handful of cards. However, preparing for all eventualities is necessary since you never quite know what might happen during the event.
5. Knowing The Significance Of A Winner
Horse racing commentators also learn what winning means for every participant to be able to tell a story afterwards. For instance, they learn important stats like how many times a trainer has won a race or whether a jockey is recording his first win at a particular festival. This way, any records broken can be highlighted in real-time for all to hear and appreciate.