Hard work paying off for Canterbury caller Daniel Fogarty

TAB Trackside cadet race caller Dan Fogarty. Photo: Race Images South

The Melbourne Cup has often captured the imagination of young racing fans and for newly established Canterbury race caller Daniel Fogarty, he was no exception.

While Fogarty, 20, doesn’t hail from a racing family, he was immersed in the sport from a young age through his parents and was just five-years-old when his interest in becoming a race caller was piqued.

“It was a dream of mine since I first watched the Melbourne Cup in 2008 when I was five-years-old,” Fogarty said.

“In our family sweepstake I drew Viewed (winner), which was Bart Cummings horse. I remember watching it and being enthralled. I think it was the first horse race that I ever paid attention to.

“I couldn’t believe how close it was, how accurate Greg Miles (race caller) was, and how exciting that moment was.

“I thought ‘wouldn’t that be an amazing job’.

“I didn’t know how he (Miles) did it, but I knew deep down that I wanted to be whatever that was.”

Fogarty continued to follow racing with a keen interest and six years ago he plucked up the courage to message commentator Mark McNamara to investigate how he could follow his passion and become a race caller.

“During the summer when I was 14, I reached out to Mark McNamara and I asked him how do you become a race caller?” Fogarty said.

“He said ‘go out to the workouts one day, record yourself and send it back to me’. I did and then I started going wherever I could to practice – Methven, Motukarara, wherever was happy to have me.

“Eventually I got an opportunity when I was 16 to start practicing race meetings. I would go and record myself at Addington and Riccarton Park. I did that every Friday and Saturday I could for the past three or four years.”

While Fogarty continued to toil away at the grassroots of racing, intent on laying a solid foundation for his chosen vocation, he also worked on his skillset by pursuing speech and drama at school.

“I went to St Thomas of Canterbury College, and throughout high school I did public speaking, debating, theatre sports and productions,” he said.

“I love being in speech competitions, I won a number of them when I was at school. My theatre sports team were the South Island Champions in 2017.

“I just love being able to elevate the moment and be able to perform for a crowd and audience, which is very similar to what race calling is. Whilst you aren’t in front of a crowd, you have got the crowd at home and the crowd on course. It is really cool.”

Upon leaving school, Fogarty was urged to follow a different career path, however, he stuck to his guns and worked at his local movie theatre before his dedication and persistence was rewarded last year when offered a cadetship with racing broadcaster TAB Trackside.

“I always knew that I had to stay true to myself, even if it meant that others would be disappointed,” he said.

“If you try to get approval from everyone else, the only person you are going to disappoint is yourself. All I have ever wanted to do is be a race caller.

“It is not often easy turning down opportunities to go on to further study, but I did get my Diploma from Trinity College in Speech and Drama, so I am a qualified speech and drama teacher.

“It is a huge passion of mine and I think that has really helped me with my race calling.

“I also went and worked at the movie theatre, which I think was really good. It taught me a lot of good personable skills, which I think are very transferrable to the role I have got now.

“We are all in a different race in life and I think every skill you can gain throughout every different experience is somewhat beneficial if you can look at it in that light.

“Eventually, midway through last year I got the opportunity to come on and start my cadetship with the TAB. I am very grateful for the opportunity and I try to make the most of it every day.”

It’s been a dream come true for Fogarty and he said he has loved every moment of his steady progression, to the point where he is now calling full race cards at some meetings.

“When I first started (with TAB Trackside), I got to call all of the trials and practiced at race meetings when I could,” he said.

“In December last year I got to call my first greyhound races and that led into calling my first full meeting in the middle of January this year, which was really cool.

“I kicked off doing a few (harness) races at Rangiora in February before going to Manawatu to do my first full harness meeting.

“A couple of weeks ago I called my first gallops races at Oamaru and the Riccarton Synthetic. It has all been a stepping-stone and all been building blocks toward each goal.

“My aim is to be as good at all three codes as I possibly can be.”

Fogarty is enjoying honing his craft under the guidance of senior race caller Matt Cross, and said it is a surreal moment to wake up every morning and do the job he loves.

“Matt Cross has been a huge help and he continues to mentor me,” Fogarty said.

“He is very good at what he does. I take a lot of motivation from what he did as he started out at a young age, very similar to me.

“I almost have to pinch myself each day that I get to go and call a race meeting. It is very cool and I feel very blessed.”

While Fogarty has enjoyed being mentored by Cross, he has also taken the opportunity to repay the favour to his local community through speech and drama.

“I love helping out in the community, being a part of my youth group and helping kids with speech and drama,” he said.

“I was hired by my old school to coach a public speaking group for a competition earlier this year and it was the first time in 13 years the school had been able to win the competition.

“I love helping people because I think in life we need mentors and role models to help us and at the same time we have an opportunity to help those alongside us on the journey as well.”

Fogarty will continue his race calling journey at Riccarton Park’s synthetic meeting on Wednesday where he will be able to combine two of his favourite things – calling races and watching his two horses compete.

“I am very excited for tomorrow because I am calling the first three races and then I have got a share in two horses racing in race four and six,” he said.

“It is almost a dream day to be able to call the races and then watch my horses run.

“I have got a horse in race four called Russian Rosette, who is trained by Michael and Matthew Pitman.

“She won last start, which was very exciting. I think there are 50 owners in the Pitman $2 A Day Syndicate and that is pretty exciting to be a part of.

“We are in a maiden final tomorrow, so we are really looking forward to being able to try and go back-to-back.

“The other horse I have got a share in is called Garden City who I bought a wee share in at the start of 2021 when she went through the yearling sale. That was my 18th birthday present to myself.

“Last year I went down to Wingatui and watched her win her second start, which was a huge thrill. She has been a sentimental favourite of mine and I look forward to seeing how she goes tomorrow.”

While delighted to be pursuing his dream career, Fogarty is keeping his feet firmly on the ground and isn’t getting carried away with aspirations of grandeur just yet.

“Being 20-years-old, I just live day-by-day and I feel grateful for every opportunity I get,” he said.

“Whatever happens in the future, I just want to make sure that I am at the right level and able to do the job as well as I possibly can.

“I think I have got a great opportunity over the next few years to gain some really good skills.

“I am wanting to get better every day. If you settle for how good you are right now then you are going to settle for mediocrity and let things slide.

“I hold myself to a high standard and I just want to get better. I don’t necessarily have goals of where I want to go and where I want to be, I just want to be the best I can possibly be.”

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