Matt’s grandfather instilled in him a love for racing, and from a young age he has honed his skills in calling races.
Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you get involved as a race caller?
I was brought up in the western suburbs of Melbourne and adored sport and racing. My grandfather would take me to Flemington and Moonee Valley and from there I was obsessed about being a race caller. I then practiced into a small tape recorder at the track and slowly worked up the grades. Race calling is a game of patience and timing.
What other kind of opportunities has this job opened up for you?
Firstly I have met people from all walks of life, and horse racing in particular employs so many people. Being a race caller has also extended out to calling other major events such as Olympics and Australian Open Tennis. There is an adage, if you can call horse racing you can call anything, and I’m milking it for all its worth.
It’s been 12 months since you called your first Melbourne Cup how does it feel to be regularly calling some of Australia’s biggest races?
It’s surreal and a beautiful responsibility. It really is pinch yourself stuff. When it comes to the Cup, it means so much to this nation and it is so unique in world racing. It’s truly a privilege.
What kind of preparation do you have to do leading up to race days?
I enjoy the prep. I look at the last runs, study the colours and the history of the races. I prepare sheets that are with me whilst I’m calling the races which I call cheat sheets. They have everything I need to know there. It takes about six hours the day before to study it all.
Remember the four Ps: Preparation Prevents Poor Performance.
And what about in between races, can you walk us through your race day routine?
Our main prep is done a day before where I research the horses and learn most of the colours. Between races I stay clear minded and just glance at my cheat sheets. You can’t be in full concentration mode the entire day. Usually there are 10 races so you need full concentration for 20 minutes of the day – concentration at its absolute peak.
Do you find there is more pressure on major carnival days?
Absolutely. I find that so many more people are taking notice of my work, but in reality I probably put more pressure on myself.
What is the most challenging part of being a race caller?
The most challenging part is keeping a fresh mind and staying accurate. The punters are unforgiving and one word out of place, especially in a photo finish is a nightmare. You are only as good as your last call.
Who is your favourite horse you’ve called in a race?
Winx. What that mare has done for racing and also the race caller is truly amazing. To call her, and be the voice of her third and fourth cox plates will be with me forever.
What is your favourite part of the role?
My favourite part I think is the rewarding nature of a day’s work. When I put my bag in the car at the end of the day, I truly am filled with satisfaction and pride. Very few jobs give you that reward.
What kind of advice would you give to someone thinking about a career as a race caller?
Be patient, work hard and nothing will stop you.