Home » Racing & Sport » The Young Ones – Coping With Lockdown

The Young Ones – Coping With Lockdown

Calling with Cohen - Bantering With Bailey

If you haven’t noticed the young talent in Alistair Cohen and Brandon Bailey then you have been living with your head in the sand for a very long time.

They each got involved and exposed to racing in very interesting ways.

Warren Lenferna took some time out to catch up with the Highveld based boys to find out a bit more about them and what they have been doing during this tedious lockdown and how they are keeping sane!

Alistair Cohen (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Alistair Cohen (photo: hamishNIVENPhotography)

Lockdown has been testing on most of us, but for laid back and friendly Alistair Cohen he has been reading, cleaning, ironing, walking his dogs, watching Food Network, Netflix and practicing his golf chipping in the garden. He says that his girlfriend, trainer Candice Dawson, still does not fancy his culinary skills so he rather enjoys her restaurant quality cooking!

Cohen says “She could open her own restaurant tomorrow!”

Passionate and vibrant, Brandon Bailey, on the other hand has been pretty much “work as normal” for him and his colleagues, keeping the production of Tellytrack operational from their homes.

Bailey thanked the Telemedia and Tellytrack teams for organising them to be able to work from home and keeping the channel going for the punters. Other than the Tellytrack work, Bailey has been trying in these hard times to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

He does his exercises regularly, tries to spend sufficient time with his family and has also been reading up on the racing world – learning more about Australian and American racing. Bailey enthuses, that it has been a productive time for him.

As mentioned earlier, they both got involved in the game in an intriguing manner.

Mike Azzie 

Bailey thanks his, school principal Craig Bowker and the Azzie Family for getting him going.

Bowker invited some of the students to an afternoon at the races at Turffontein, the youngsters were keen on trying something different and attended the race day, and that was the day that changed his life.

At school he would sit at the back of the classroom and study his Computaform. Once Bailey matriculated, he worked for the Azzie yard and ended up with the Alexander’s.

He now works for Tellytrack and has been for the past six years. Brandon thanks everyone that has helped get him this far – he is in love with racing and just wants to get more and more involved in the future, which is evident in his voice when you talk to him.

Cohen’s lure into racing was a tad different.

He grew up in Cowey Road which is the main road that runs behind the Hollywoodbets Greyville grandstand. His Dad has always been a R10 punter and frequented Hollywoodbets Greyville and Clairwood and insisted that he accompanied his father. This was a regular meeting ground for Cohen and his friend Tyson Heffer.

The Heffer’s need no introduction today – Cohen said that “on the rare occasions that I could not go racing, I could hear the voices of Craig Peters and Eric Denman from the balcony at home.”

London News then won in Hong Kong and It was really the commentary of David Raphael that set the fire inside of Cohen. It was at that moment that he realised he wanted to commentate.

He would call races from in front of his TV while the sound was on mute.

Ali’s mom thought he was the bees knees – she clearly knew something back then! When Cohen was 12 years old, Gold Circle held a commentators competition at Clairwood and despite his voice not having broken yet, he showed enough potential for the judges to ask him to call into a tape recorder and using binoculars at the three KZN courses and they would monitor his progress. He also did work experience at Winning Form during school holidays. He sat next to Magic Lips, also known as the Oracle, who Cohen says has more knowledge than an encyclopaedia.

There are many that will wholeheartedly agree with that comment about Matthew Lips.

When Cohen was 19 he received a call to ask if he would consider relocating to Gauteng to pursue his dream.

It was a seven year process from the day of the competition at Clairwoood to calling his first live race at Flamingo Park. Cohen says there were no shortcuts. “You can’t take any if you end up being employed to give a product to the world.”

In short, when both were asked about if they thought racing behind closed doors would work, they were both adamant that it would, as it has in many other countries around the world. Bailey is having, like many, huge withdrawals that set in long ago!

When racing finally gets the green light Cohen should be able to get straight back into race calling as it is his passion but has not thought too much about the game during lockdown, treating this time as a “break” from it all.

He mentioned that he would end up going insane and getting depressed if he were to wonder daily when racing was going to start again and has therefore distanced himself emotionally from those thoughts.

When chatting to Cohen you can hear and feel his passion and love for racing.

Bailey on the other hand feels that he is still learning a lot from the seniors and is using this time to practice and tweak a few things. He is listening to the international callers too.

He singles out the gent that calls in Hong Kong – “wow, he is good! I am sure, like most things in life, the first time back in the commentary box after a while, I might be a bit rusty but it certainly won’t take me long at all to get back into rhythm,” says Bailey.

Cohen and Bailey are both singing from the same hymn sheet when it comes to sharing advice for the future of the industry. Brandon says it is important that we all work together instead of against one another, this way so much more will be achieved.

We must learn more, help each other more and criticize less –“we also need to be proactive,” he says.

Cohen feels the industry in SA will never die as there are too many good people working hard to ensure things happen.

“The foundations are in place for a very bright future,” enthuses Alistair. He went on to say: “think of how great it can be with one intelligent voice focused on the sport and putting it where it needs and deserves to be.”

Cohen recently had his first winner with Banha Bridge whom is reportedly fit and ready to run. His last run was below best and Ali assures his horse is better than that. His girlfriend trains the horse and she is champing at the bit to get back racing.

In closing, I asked both young men to tell us something that the public might not know about them.

Brandon Bailey

Bailey says he is always willing to learn and supports constructive criticism. He admits, during lockdown he has become obsessed with virtual racing. He understands that it is not everyone’s cup of tea but he certainly enjoys it – anything to bet on he says!

Cohen, like me, is an OCD freak. Ali Cat (as he is affectionately known) admits to being an absolute sport nutter and with no live sport on currently, one can only imagine the symptoms he is enduring.

He is a long-suffering Aston Villa fan and would watch a cricket game between Bhutan and Finland! He also plays golf but says he is the worst in his school.

Going back to the OCD – everything has to be in its place, he counts to 18 every morning and every night of his life. Why 18, I do not know, I never asked. He also checks the bed is made, dishes are done, clothes must be ironed and folded perfectly, clothes hung in the correct order by colour and shirts have to be buttoned up, food all divided and has its own place in the fridge, cupboards neatly sorted and “I count and sort my socks regularly too. I am a complete nutter!!” he laughs.

I feel Alistair’s pain as I am pretty much the same, but a little tamer in the OCD department. It was refreshing to spend some time, albeit electronically, with the two young fellow racing enthusiasts and I and many others look forward to hearing their tones again and calling home the horses we have backed.

In closing, at this time, and after learning about Bailey and Cohen, maybe it is time the industry starts including and listening to the voices and opinions of the younger ones.

  • Gold Circle

Have Your Say

Comments Policy
The Sporting Post encourages everyone to feel free to comment in the spirit of enlightening the topic being discussed, to add opinions or correct errors. All posts are accepted on the condition that The Sporting Post can at any time alter, correct or remove comments, either partially or entirely.

All posters are required to post under their real and verified names, you can adjust your display name on your account page or to send corrections privately to the Editor. The Sporting Post will not publish comments submitted anonymously or under pseudonyms.

The views of any individuals that are published are NOT necessarily the views of The Sporting Post.

20 comments on “The Young Ones – Coping With Lockdown

  1. Donald says:

    This is a big statement to make at such an early stage in his career but I rate Alistair Cohen the best race caller ever produced in South Africa and by a long way at that !

  2. Dylan says:

    Both great guys to watch and their enthusiasm is what’s needed from/for everyone. I remember Alistair hanging around Clairwood as a young kid back in the day. He has done really well.

  3. paul says:

    I have been watch racing from all over the world and the enthusiasm by some of the race callers leaves much to be desired. How often I have said to my husband that our race callers in South Africa can match anyone around the world. Our callers call with passion. Pray that we will soon be up and running. Good Luck

  4. Michael Higgs says:

    Yep these guys are good for the game we must include Sheldon Pieters as well !

  5. Sadza says:

    Both of these guys are extremely talented and would make it big anywhere in the world given an opportunity. Let’s hope they are both thinking how to improve the sport and attract other youngsters as they are the future. Let’s get rid of the old dead wood and rather support this young talent by giving them a bigger voice in future decisions.

  6. Robert says:

    I can’t agree with the earlier comment by Donald, that Alistair Cohen is the finest race caller/commentator ever produced in South Africa.
    Alistair is exceptionally good, but still has a long way to go to be the best.

    Donald is possibly forgetting or maybe is not aware of Trevor Denman, who was a fantastic caller based in Natal, together with brother Eric. Trevor then decided to further his career in the US where he became a world beater at Santa Anita in California. His style of calling, whereby he generated so much excitement during a race and went to a different level in the run in to the post.
    I believe he was inducted into the hall of fame just before retiring. Without doubt, one the greatest callers in the history of horseracing.

  7. Selwyn Elk says:

    Sorry to burst your bubble Don, there was Trevor Denman and then a long way back to the rest, not even close, case closed!!!

  8. Selwyn Elk says:

    Commentators must do what the job suggests and that is commentate, not tip to the public what horses they should back when the horses are busy being loaded, most annoying ,just call the race and revert back to the studio, they should use Graham Hawkins as a perfect example

  9. Hilton witz says:

    When it comes to the full package of commentator ,hosting racing and sports shows plus being a presenter in house at tellytrack there are very few if any better than Mr Cohen and he is still very young so the world is his oyster and its when not if that he will be given job offers overseas…

  10. Gman says:

    Yes we miss SA racing and all involved.
    Nadine fancying Greg Cheyne and Greef to have a good day at Fairview.
    Mr Ellie tipping the field to win in CPT.
    Deez selling Marcus in DBN and giving “Mr Fish and Chips” a big thumbs up after the meeting.
    Allister as sarcastic as ever when the pace is slow or when a horse finishes miles behind the rest.
    Sheldon can tip you a horse of 16/1 and better and it will arrive.
    Brandon Bailey consolling us when we had a bad day at Flamingo Park and “Thanking us the loyal Punter” after every race meeting he presents.
    Hope to see you all soon.

  11. Beegee says:

    Selwyn – if its annoying hit the mute button….. Hit the mute again when the gates open, if you havnt noticed it falls within their job spec….. Management requires that they have an opinion….. Everyone does

  12. Life says:

    I do not know anything about Alistair Cohen and his background.

    From his surname, I assume that he has some jewish heritage.

    I was interested in his daily repetition of counting up to 18.

    The number 18 has a significant meaning in Judaism.

    I copied a few paragraphs from an American website explaining the significance of 18. It may or may not hit a chord with Alistair and indicate some meaning to his life.

    All the best.

    “Jewish religion, similar to many other religions and cultures, place an emphasis on the significance of life. As such, the literal translation of the word “chai’ to ‘life is meaningful on its face. In addition, individuals who observe Judaism or identify with the religion are generally guided by basic principles which include characteristics such as kindness, thoughtfulness, selflessness and remaining good natured, both morally and ethically during life on Earth. In addition to the number 18 or numerical significance, the “Chai” is a recognizable symbol commonly worn on necklaces and engraved on rings.Gifts of “Chai” (“$18”)

    In Judaism, it is common to give and receive gifts in multiples of $18 or “Chai”, which in part signifies a good omen for life. In fact, the longstanding Jewish tradition of gifting, contributing or donating in increments of $18 to individuals is often considered a good deed and mitzvah. Generally, these gifting rituals take place in connection with the celebration, honoring or remembrance of loved ones. This custom is also common during all life-cycle events, including rites of passage, and any Jewish occasion from birth announcements and weddings to expressing condolences. The act of giving, gifting or donating $18 or a multiples thereof is commonly referred to as “giving chai.” This nomenclature extends to multiples as the number 36 is commonly referred to as “double Chai.” Symbolically, these gestures are representative of giving a gift of “life.”

  13. Donald says:

    Hi Robert , fully aware of the Denman brothers especially Trevor as the first race meeting that I attended was in 1959 so I have heard them all from Ernie Duffield up to the present ?

    By the way the second best I rate as Rouvaun Smit !

  14. Frankie says:

    Frankie Zackey..
    Both men are sick for the game..A C in my opinion could end up anywhere in the world he’s a man that is very knowledgeable in all sector’s and he talks the talk great all rounder..B B is improving quickly…God Bless Guys

  15. Pops says:

    @Life,you have just convinced me about Sportingpost. If you want to know anything about anything,company law,betting,auditing,the greatest race horse,commentator,race course,how not win friends and influence people and now a little on religion go to Sporting Post.

  16. Jonathan says:

    Life….really now!

  17. Cecil Pienaar says:

    Hear hear Pops …. Geez, my English went from dis to this and free to three, just to name one or too examples since I joined this site.

    @ Life, interesting 👍

    Back to the subject, this man Ali is tops, but I also like our local guy Sheldon and his exactas…. The younger generation grew up around racing, future is in good hands. (Good mentors like Graham and Craig, also Clyde)

  18. Barry says:

    Great young talents. Lest we not forget Nico Kritsiotis, raw passion and unbridled exitement second to none. I salute all of you !!

  19. Selwyn Elk says:

    Hi Beegee, you have missed my point completely and your post doesn’t even warrant a reply.l am quite aware of job requirements but commentators should be there to commentate and leave the tipping to the tipsters. You are obviously not fully aware of the psyche of a gambler.

  20. firstfivelegs says:

    Alistair Cohen is an extremely good all rounder, who stands out both as a presenter and a commentator. Having watched a lot of overseas racing in recent weeks, AC compares well with counterparts in other countries. Brandon isn’t at the same level yet, he’s enthusiastic but often comes across as a strange combination of subservient but self opinionated. Always very polite, but a bit too keen to push his personal fancies, which are always pretty predictable. Sheldon Peters like Alistair is excellent, good commentator and also a very good tipster who both regularly finds, and is not afraid to tip, decent roughies. And then there’s ‘Odds On Nico’, totally incapable of seeing further than the favourite, and commentates accordingly. In many years of watching, I can never recall Nico spotting and calling a decent priced horse clearly travelling like a winner when they turn into the straight. He’s too busy spotting and calling the favourite.

Leave a Comment

‹ Previous

Saturday Racing Menu

Next ›

Lockdown Day 58 – Snap Puzzle

Popular Posts