A passion for ponies and performance

Gippsland race caller Adam Olszanski knew he wanted to be a race caller in high school.

The TVN caller’s love of racing was fostered by “tagging along” to weekend race meets with his father, and a passion for performing attracted him to the niche.

“I loved the races and I was also heavily involved with drama and debating at school, so it felt like race calling was an amalgamation of those things,” Olszanski said.

After years of attending races, at the age of 15 Olszanski said he began calling races into a recorder at the back of the grand stand.

At the end of the day he would analyse the tape, and send them to race callers for feedback.

“Because there was no course you could do, I knew it all had to be self-taught,” he said.

“For years I was sending tapes to radio stations and callers and eventually it paid off.”

His first official race call came at the age of 17 at a picnic meet at Alexandria, where he was allowed to call two races that were not broadcast, heard only at the track.

Then in February 2005, his first “big break” came.

The caller of a harness meet in Ouyen fell ill and Olszanski got a call at 9.30am from radio station Sport 927 (now radio sport national) telling him to get to Essendon airport immediately.

“They said get to the airport and there’ll be a steward and a plane ready to fly me to Ouyen,” he said.

“That was my first real opportunity because I called all the races and it was also broadcast.”

After that Olszanski’s career took off and in November, after thousands of hours of practice and managing a pizza shop, he was hired as a permanent race caller by TVN.

What The Express really wanted to know was how race callers memorise the names of dozens of horses each race day.

“The more you do it, the easier it gets,” he said.

“There is a trick to it though – it’s all about colour association.

“When the horses parade about 15 minutes before the race, that’s when I make the name and colour associations.”

Another skill Olszanski said was essential was the ability to wipe the previous race out of one’s mind quickly.

Olszanski currently calls most races in Gippsland, which he said helped because he tended to see the same horses going around.

However, he said it became “quite difficult” at meetings with a lot of new horses or calling in a region he was unfamiliar with.

At 28, Olszanski is well on his way to achieving his dream of being the main race caller in a metropolitan area.

“I’d also like to call overseas,” he said. “Everyone asks about the Melbourne Cup, but for me it’s not about calling a specific race so if it didn’t happen, I wouldn’t mind too much,” he said.