Alistair Cohen, South Africa’s world-class race caller, has been appointed Senior Manager, Broadcasting and Commentating, for Cape Racing effective November 1st, incidentally his 33rd birthday.
The appointment follows Cohen’s periodic guest calling of Cape races over the last few months and recent negotiations with Cape Racing’s senior management. Justin Vermaak, Racing & Bloodstock Executive, said: “We are delighted to have secured Alistair’s services on a permanent basis. He is very talented, both as a commentator and a presenter, popular with racing fans and within the racing community. He fits perfectly with our long-term plan to make racing in the Western Cape a truly world-class experience.”
Cohen’s duties will be going beyond race calling and will extend to the coordination of Cape Racing’s broadcasting products, including pre-race interviews and race day presentation.
He commented: “My brief is to direct and shape Cape Racing’s overall broadcasting content and product into world-class quality. I am excited to be working closely with Justin and team, all people who are driven, committed and hold themselves to the highest standards. Hollywoodbets and Greg’s vision surpasses anything done before in South African racing. They have skipped a millennium to the year 3000! I cannot not get over the development taking place at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth – this racecourse will shortly be in the top 5 courses in the world, in my opinion. I cannot wait to start!”
Cohen’s career followed a swift upward trajectory after he joined Phumelela as a trainee race caller in 2010. He progressed to senior commentator and developed a dedicated following. In 2021, he landed himself the sought-after position of senior caller in Dubai, where he spent just short of two seasons calling the 2021 Dubai World Cup and the other high-profile Dubai Carnival features before returning to South Africa as a freelancer.
Calling the Cape’s flagship races was a significant factor in his considering his professional move. “I have called the World Sports Betting Cape Fillies Guineas and the Hollywoodbets Cape Guineas, but so far not the L’Ormarins Kings Plate, the World Sports Betting Cape Town Met, or the SplashOut Cape Derby. I can’t wait!” he enthused.
As a youngster, Cohen was drawn to race calling by David Raphael’s riveting delivery in the QEII Cup in 1997. He regards the Australian, Matt Hill, as the highest standard for callers today and has taken guidance from the UK’s leaders Simon Holt, Mike Cattermole, and the mellifluous Richard Hoiles, whom he regards as “a sounding board.”
Cohen said that he owed a debt of gratitude to Mary Slack for supporting his career. “If it weren’t for Mary who stepped in to give our racing industry a lifeline, Hollywoodbets and Greg wouldn’t have been in a position to rescue Cape Racing, and the landscape would have been different.”
Cohen will be commuting between Johannesburg and Cape Town for a few weeks and said: “I enjoyed living in Gauteng and forged some good friendships. I look forward to seeing my 4Racing colleagues in the Cape, especially for the festival meetings at Hollywoodbets Kenilworth.”