by Craig Braddick
Let me introduce myself. I’m Craig Braddick, and I am going to be your race caller in 2019 at the Georgia Steeplechase, Fair Hill Races, and the Steeplechase of Charleston. Also, I will be doing color commentary for the Willowdale Steeplechase.
Track announcers have varied backgrounds. Tony Bentley is an acclaimed film and TV actor, and Will O’Keefe doubles up as a race-meet official and a member of the National Steeplechase Association’s ratings committee. My background? I was born in Cambridge, UK, and always loved racing.
By the time, I was 8, I would turn the sound down on the TV and call the races into a tape recorder. As a teenager, I would go to racecourses and would use a spare commentary box to practice from.
Many of the race callers took me under their wing, and I learned to call with their guidance. When I was 15, I was proficient enough to call my first point-to-point, but at that time opportunities were very limited to progress. I moved to the USA in 2001 and about 10 years ago started calling at some flat race meets.
Last February, I heard of a new steeplechase in Georgia and contacted the chairman, Anthony-Scott Hobbs, offering my services as a race caller. My first day at Georgia was nerve-wracking, but people said they enjoyed my calls. Later, Toby Edwards asked me to call at Charleston. I then found out several other steeplechases were interested in my race calls.
Fair Hill Races is a meet with such traditions, as it’s one of the jewels of American Steeplechasing. This year they celebrate their 85th anniversary. People will rightly have high expectations, and I feel very privileged to have been asked to call at such a prestigious venue with its storied history.
I use a different approach from most race callers, as I try to tell the story of the race, explain the tactics, and comment on how the horses are jumping, but above all be accurate and engaging. I do several hours prep work the day before, and I truly consider it a profession.
If I can help draw people into the race and give some insight into what is going on, we can entertain and develop new steeplechase fans, too. In 2019, sports fans expect knowledgeable, thorough, and inclusive calling in every sport. I think it’s part of a paradigm shift towards a newer way of doing things that still recognizes the sports heritage.
I live in Phoenix, Ariz., (currently calling races at Rillito Park in Tucson) but may be moving east later this year. I love to play golf and spend time with my 15-year-old rescue dog, Scooter. I also collect archive British TV, mainly from the 1960s and 1970s, and enjoy listening to BBC Radio.
Finally, thank you to everyone who has given me an opportunity and to the fans for their encouraging comments. Please come and say “Hello” if you see me at the races!