Australia’s only female race-caller is on-track for success, writes Laura Brodnik.
Victoria Shaw is the queen of Australian race calling, but she’d like a few other ladies to come and join her on the throne.
“I don’t call full time, but I’m the only woman in Australia who does this,” she said. “I originally wanted to be a radio announcer and found myself going to voice coaching. I was at Gippsland Radio Station 3TR and I looked up at the wall and saw a photo of the legendary Bill Collins and I just knew that race broadcasting was something I wanted to do.”
The Melbourne based race-caller called her first race in 1998 at Hanging Rock and recently dropped into Brisbane as part of the Girls On Track promotion where she called the Track Mares Final at Albion Park and then Race 4 at Doomben.
The Girls on Track series celebrated the talented pool of female participants in the Queensland racing industry, but Shaw believes there is still a lot of work to be done.
“Fashion is what is marketed to women, so there’s really no one pushing women to be trainers, race-callers or stewards,” she said. “It’s part of the broader culture of Australia, it’s not a problem that’s unique to the .
“There’s a bombardment in the media of fashion and that’s the immediate assumption of that women do. There are plenty of women out there who are hard workers and could do well in this industry.
“The point is that there is a wealth of opportunities out there. Something else to remember across all codes of racing is that you don’t have to a family background to work. My family have had small interests, but certainly no one in my family had ever ventured down the path that I have. It would be great if women simply came forward and asked, because that’s all I did to start as a race-caller.
“Racing Queensland have really put themselves out there and said ‘if you’ve got a question it’s as simple as this. Contact us and ask. We will assist you’ people say it’s male dominated, but anything is unless woman stick their hand up and have a go.”
Shaw said that race-calling is incredibly difficult but ultimately rewarding.
“One thing to take into consideration is that you are learning in a public capacity and many women may find that daunting,” she said. There’s no margin for error with race calling. There’s a lot of criticism but all the guys who have been around for years are so accommodating and open and we really are a tight knit group.
“I don’t know where it will take me from one day to the next. Racing will take you to so many strange and interesting places.”
What do you think about Victoria’s career choice? Would you like to hear more female race callers? Let us know in the comments below.