At just 26 years old, Jesse Wilson is making a name for himself in the next generation of race commentating talent.
After living in Oamaru all his life, he left for Christchurch yesterday after being chosen to take part in the New Zealand Racing Board’s commentating cadetship programme.
Wilson started commentating locally in his high school years, starting off just at workouts and trials.
“It was only weekends, trials, workouts, when I could,” he said.
“I suppose it’s just been a passion of mine for quite a while.”
An interest in racing is in the blood, with his grandfather and father at the Oamaru Racecourse every other day.
“My grandad and dad both muck around with a few horses, so I spent a lot of time here,” he said.
“I’ve grown up with horses, not in a big way, but I’ve always had quite a big interest.”
He was offered the cadetship about two months ago, after a trip to Wellington about two weeks prior for a two-day training programme.
“I did a few training modules, one was with a speech coach and I did a few videos, went and watched the Box Seat being filmed live,” he said.
The cadetship opportunity “came sort of out of the blue”, he said.
A few years ago he realised his true passion for commentating, and decided it was something he would like to pursue, but he knew opportunities were rare.
“It’s very hard to get into… It’s something you wouldn’t think would happen, but it has so it’s pretty exciting… It’s a good experience,” he said.
“I enjoy just being at the races so for it to be a job as well is hard to believe.”
The skill has come naturally to him.
“It’s not exactly a skill that’s very common,” he said.
Ultimately, he’d love to be a full-time commentator.
“The cadetship is 12 months so we’ll see how that goes and go from there,” he said.
He’ll be trained in all three codes – harness racing, gallops and greyhounds.
Brought up in Oamaru, and educated at Waitaki Boys’ High School, the 26-year-old has been working in Oamaru at Redpaths Electrical and for the last year with Laser Electrical.
“So this is quite a contrast,” he said.
He’s a little bit nervous about the move, but is looking forward to a new experience with “a great bunch of people”.
He’s got great support from his family, who are still involved in the Oamaru racing circle.