Hoiles & Drury Meet to Discuss the Differences in their Commentary Roles Ahead of Cheltenham via Betway

Liam Bewsher | @LBewsherMedia

Hoiles & Drury Meet to Discuss the Differences in their Commentary Roles Ahead of Cheltenham via Betway

Thanks to Betway, we’re going to take a look at the differences between being a horse racing commentator compared to a football commentator in the presence of Richard Hoiles and Peter Drury, two of the most famous and respected commentators of their generation.

The central building at Cheltenham racecourse has been described as horse racing’s Wembley Way by Hoiles, painting a real sense of excitement to the festival, whilst Drury enters the scene by saying that he loves visiting these sort of places when it’s skeletal so that he can imagine the buzz around the place on race day, in his ever enigmatic commentary voice.

In Commentary, Accuracy & Emotion Makes the Difference

Hoiles has noted to Drury, that to identify the horses' names, he has to take a look at the profiles of them, such as a fleck of white on their noses, difference in hoofs and more so that he doesn’t mix up the names of each competitor, similarly to how you would identify a player's numbers on a football pitch.

Drury fondly recalls a Champions League match that he commentated on between AS Roma and Manchester United at the Stadio Olimpico in the 2007/08 season where Cristiano Ronaldo scored a towering header of which he didn’t see the face or number of the now 37-year-old forward, just his distinct red boots, of which he used to identify the Red Devils player’s name.

Both Hoiles and Drury believe that there are days where due to the excitement and the notability of the occasion, it is easy to be slightly overwhelmed when being a commentator, as the viewers expect you to get it right due to their mental investment into the event.

When being shown the commentary box, Drury admired it due to the picturesque view of where Hoiles sits at the festival, whilst the latter says how privileged he is to work on something he was once a fan of, the former agrees he feels the same during his role.

Again, they begin to focus on a major part of the commentary process, the recognition of those who you are commentating on, Drury mentions that he roughly knows each starting 11 that he is looking at in a football game and asks his fellow commentator how many horses he has to cover across six races, of which Hoiles states he will have to do so on at least 90.

Drury then elaborated that he has a finite 90 minutes to look at his notes and that in horse racing, surely there is no time to look down on a final furlong, of which Hoiles says that in commentary, “accuracy has to be the cornerstone of it, if you haven’t got that, it doesn’t matter how good your turn of phrase is”.
Hoiles and Drury then had a fascinating interchange in comments about preparing for hours on end before their events, making books full of notes, but both being unable to use the majority of them due to circumstances, with the horse racing commentator making an interesting comparison of an artist painting a sunrise only using the paints that will create the sunrise in front of you despite taking your whole pallet.

Both commentators proceed to discuss about the drama of the event, with Hoiles stating that the day you want an event to be safe and straightforward in terms of action on the racecourse, is the day you ought to give up, but states that simplicity is often the best way to be as a commentator when portraying the picture to the audience.

Both state that they love great sporting stories and like to know the backgrounds of winners, Drury brings up South Africa against Mexico from the 2010 World Cup when Siphiwe Tshabalala scored an incredible equaliser for the home nation in a 1-1 draw at the opening match of the tournament, recalling the pride and joy of the moment.

Hoiles relates to this by bringing up Denman’s Gold Cup in 2008, as if you do race commentary, you go out over the PA and often get race interactions with the crowd, as when he brought up the line “Denman’s got him at it” when the opposing jockey made an error, the crowd roared proving just how emotive commentary can be for those watching an event.