The sudden departure of United Arab Emirates (UAE) racecaller Alistair Cohen presented Bundaberg’s Jarrod Wessel with an amazing opportunity, taking up a short-term appointment to replace him for the last nine meetings of the UAE’s racing season and making his debut at the Abu Dhabi meeting last Thursday.
Jarrod, who turned 24 this week, took up race calling in Bundaberg seven years ago and has built his portfolio to be the emerging voice of horse and greyhound racing throughout South Queensland.
He called the last race at the Albion Park dogs last Wednesday afternoon and only a few hours later was on a flight to Dubai.
His name had been recommended as a stop-gap solution to replace Alistair for the rest of the UAE season.
Dialogue between the Emirates Racing Authority and Tabcorp confirmed Jarrod’s appointment with only hours to spare before the flight departure.
“Incredible opportunity and just a crazy few hours,” Jarrod reflected after broadcasting the Abu Dhabi meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Top racecaller David Fowler, who has mentored Jarrod since he began his career at RadioTAB in 2017, was similarly gobsmacked by the chain of events.
“We sat down for dinner and he had to depart with a schooner and a veal dish still sitting there,” David said.
In a hectic schedule, Jarrod also called at three other tracks over the weekend, Al Ain, Jebel Ali and Sharjah Longines, and again at Abu Dhabi yesterday.
Jarrod admitted “a mixture of nerves and excitement was certainly there for my first call that’s for sure”.
“At Abu Dhabi, there were probably around 1000 people on track but the weekend meeting at Jebel Ali, they probably had 5000 people on track,” Jarrod said.
“I am the English broadcaster for the club, so my call was broadcast to the US, UK, Australia (all the English-speaking countries).
“I was the on-course caller at Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah. At Jebel Ali, they take the Arabic call.”
With four meetings remaining, the last being on 7 April, Jarrod will fly back to Australia the following day, but he is hopeful he could get the job for all of next season, although his dream is to one day become the top metropolitan caller in one of the Australian eastern seaboard capitals.
“The contract is seasonal over here, the season being six months, but as the previous caller has headed home for good, I would assume I would be in consideration for the contract next season,” Jarrod said.
“My career goal would to be the number one caller in Brisbane Sydney or Melbourne, so if nothing else, this (nine-meeting stint) would be a great stepping stone and awesome to have on my CV.”
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