Calling horse races used to be a party trick for James Tait.
The sheep and cattle farmer and part-time country NSW race caller fell into the job after his friends uncovered his hidden talent.
“It was a party trick to start off,” Tait told AAP.
“I was big fan of calls and people would get me to do race calls for fun. Then I started doing morning functions and things like that.
“A few people said why not give the real thing a go and I started doing that.”
Tait landed his first job in 2008 and has been calling ever since.
Now he will head to one of the biggest days in the Australian racing calendar, to call the Country Championships Final on Saturday at Randwick.
“I probably wouldn’t have imagined I’d be doing this, to come down and do the Country Championship Finals,” Tait said.
He visited the track on Tuesday, getting a chance to familiarise himself with the race callers’ box.
He’s been calling each week for the past six months, relishing the extra practice.
“The more you do the better you get,” he said.
The biggest help is studying the form guide and getting a horse’s colours cemented in his memory.
The Greg Bennett-trained Clearly Innocent is the favourite for Saturday’s Final.
Racing is in Tait’s blood, coming from one of NSW’s best-known racing families.
His family is famous for breeding and racing champion stayer Tie the Knot and Golden Slipper winner Baguette.
A horse owner himself, Tait tasted Sydney success with Jo Jo Girl, who won at Randwick in 2014.
“For a country-trained horse to come down and win at 30-40 to 1, that was a great day.”
A Gundagai local, Tait hopes the inclusion of the Country Championships Final and the Provincial Championship Finals at Randwick will entice more Sydneysiders to venture out to a major country meeting.
“Country racing has fantastic atmosphere,” he said.
“You find owners love having runners there, the whole community gets behind it, fashions on the field are always on.
“It all adds to the excitement on the day.”