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Horse Race Commentator: Walter Vijay mans the mic at Selangor Turf Club

By Kerry-Ann Augustin

I BRAVE headache-inducing traffic on a sweltering Saturday afternoon and head to Sungai Besi, a township in Kuala Lumpur that the Selangor Turf Club has called home since it moved from its grounds in Jalan Ampang 21 years ago.

As I inch closer towards my destination, I start noticing the stretch of cars and people walking towards a building of mammoth proportions. When I reach this building I am taken up to the highest floor, first by a lift, then steep spiral stairs. There, in a tiny room sits a solitary figure among the steel pipes that hold this fort together.

“Don’t talk to him until after the races. He needs full concentration,” a club staff warns me.

I find a man, head buried in papers; binoculars in one hand, a pen in the other, murmuring, as if reciting a chant. When it’s all over, he turns to me and extends his hand for a firm handshake. He stands up, towering above me (who doesn’t) and introduces himself. “Hi, I’m Walter,” he says, with a smile as broad as the racetracks I’m facing.

Selangor Turf Club Race Announcer Walter Vijay

Walter Vijay is the man behind the mic — the voice that echoes through turf clubs in Selangor, Perak, Penang and even across the causeway to Singapore. “Give me a moment, I have to memorise the colours for the next race,” he says. 

I can see why he enjoys coming to work — he has a 180-degree view of a sprawling, stunning landscape, beautifully manicured bushes, casuarina trees and the well-tended grass track framed by white fences.

Walter agrees that his little “office” has the best view but for the next 90 seconds all eyes are on the racetrack.

Horse race commentating, according to ESPN veteran sportswriter Rick Reilly, is described as “the scariest minute in sports”. I understand why now. Walter has all of 12 minutes to memorise the names of horses, their recent form and colours of the jockeys’ jerseys for the race. Like all race callers around the world, he may have to do this up to nine times a day. “It keeps my memory sharp!” Walter says.

 

Read more New Straits Times

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