Rail eager to call Forbury Park
By Jonny Turner
New Zealand’s newest race caller Craig Rail cannot wait to step into the commentator's box at Forbury Park next month.
Rail, who has called harness racing meetings in country Victoria for the past 15 years, will get his first chance to show off his vocal skills in New Zealand at the Dunedin track early next month.
The commentator, who shifted to Invercargill this year, has been hired as a contractor to the Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA), formerly known as the New Zealand Racing Board.
He will stand in for recently departed Otago commentator Jason Teaz while a full-time replacement is sought.
RITA is expected to follow a recruitment process to replace Teaz and Rail looks to be one of the leading candidates.
In the meantime, the Queensland-born harness racing enthusiast is keen to call races wherever he is asked.
That is driven by his lifelong passion for commentating.
"I love the job," Rail said.
"I get a great kick out of calling a maiden, even a bad race when the owners have been paying for five years and are jumping up and down.
"I get a kick out of that; I like the excitement about it."
Another factor driving Rail's commitment to calling is that he is undoubtedly a harness racing tragic.
He has spent some of his time since moving to Invercargill poring over trials videos from Victoria.
Rail writes detailed trials reports for his previous full-time employer, Harness Racing Victoria (HRV).
Though Rail has spent a decade and a-half working in harness racing he has experience in all three codes and is keen to call thoroughbreds and dogs wherever he can.
"Being employed by HRV, harness racing is all I have called for 15 years,” he said.
"Prior to that I was doing all codes and was doing stuff in the studio; it was a jack-of-all-trades job."
Rail got his start in racing in Queensland before shifting to Melbourne to work with HRV.
"I lived there virtually all of my life before HRV gave me a job in Melbourne."
Rail has spent much of his working week over the past 15 years racking up huge hours of air and car travel to get to meetings across Victoria.
That means a trip of less than three hours from Invercargill to Forbury Park will be a breeze for him.
Rail, who has attended meetings at Forbury Park recently to get familiarised with the track, will make the trek to Dunedin to call his first races in New Zealand on August 4.