WHILE the runners and jockeys have their work cut out for them in The Grand Heritage, sponsored by World Sports Betting at the Vaal Racecourse on Saturday there will be someone in the grandstand who has the toughest job of all on the day.
But for Alistair Cohen, the thought of having to commentate on a race involving 28 horses isn’t as scary a prospect as some might imagine as Racing. It’s A Rush found out when catching up with him earlier this week
“I’m really looking forward to 28-horses down the Vaal straight. It’s something unique and obviously hasn’t been done before. I think the biggest allure of the race is the fact that, as in any particular race, you can’t be sure what is going to happen. You’re never sure what to expect.,” said Cohen.
“I’ve known for a long time and I’ve been excited ever since. I’ll be the first guy to call 28-horses in a race in SA so that’s a really nice accomplishment.”
As far as his planning for the meeting goes he’s not going to try and preempt things by formulating some sort of script. This is racing after all.
“I tend not to over-prepare things. I obviously get accustomed to the form and things like that but I like to call things off the cuff and let the race develop. Because this is such an unknown and a new concept it’s going to be a thrill to be able to call the race.”
What could make his task that bit more challenging is the fact that there is a perception of a draw bias
“I’m not the biggest believer that there is a track bias. I guess when it comes to Saturday we might get a better idea in the first few races if the jockeys favour one side of the track or not. I’ve never believed there is a bias. In my view it’s flat, it’s grass and it’s long. If a horse is good enough it will win from anywhere on the track.
“What I am most worried about is if they split into two groups. For races down the straight I call off the TV, races around the turn I use the binoculars. There might be horses that are out of view so I’m going to have to use binoculars and having perception of which horse is in front is a completely different ball game. That’s probably my biggest fear but overall i can’t wait for it. It’s going to be something so cool.”
Cohen has been an official racecaller since August 2010, his love affair with the art started as a schoolboy when winning a commentator’s competition at the age of 12, and he’s revelled in the role ever since.
It means that he’s well-versed when it comes to picking out runners even if there are a number of runners in The Grand Heritage sporting the same colours, their caps will differentiate them and can’t see that being an issue in a big field.
“The nice thing is that these are all established horses. They’ve been around the block and I’ve seen them all before. If it was a whole lot of first timers that would be a different challenge. “