Behind the Barriers with Matthew Hill
By 6pm this coming Easter Saturday, race caller Greg Miles would have finished calling the last race of his 38 year career. Taking his place upon his retirement is Melbourne based broadcaster Matthew Hill.
Matthew has been gracing the airways for over 15 years and his resume is nothing short of impressive. From his humble beginnings at Sport 927 Radio and Sky Channel, Matthew has broadcast a host of national feature race meetings plus feature races in 10 different countries and was a six-time broadcaster on the BBC’s prestigious Grand National coverage.
Outside racing, there’s also the past three Summer Olympics Games, the 2016 Summer Paralympic Games and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. These gave him the opportunity to call an array of sports including triathlon, volleyball, road cycling, curling, speed skating and equestrian. Most recently, he has covered the Australian Open and AFL for the ABC.
I first met Matthew in 1999 when he, along with my younger brother Blake, made the Top 3 of the 2KY (now Sky Sports Radio) Race Caller Competition. We’ve remained friends ever since so when he says that taking the reins from Greg Miles is 'an honour, a privilege and a rare responsibility’, I know how true this is and what a stellar job he will do. I can also tell you that Chinese is his favourite takeout, he has a preference for scotch and he loves a good 80s tune on the dancefloor!
Matt took time out from his second Dubai World Cup trip on the weekend to chat:
What has been your most challenging broadcasting gig?
Most sports present different challenges but I reckon the hardest is horse racing. For me the Golden Slipper was the race that had me on edge the most. I love the Slipper, but for a race caller there is so much to see and talk about in a 70 second broadcast, and you obviously like to get the call word perfect if you can.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
When I was a lad, I would marvel at Greg Miles voice at Flemington and wanted to emulate that. Being brought up in Melbourne, the biggest sporting broadcaster of my time was Bruce McAvaney. I often feel blessed that the nature of our business means we get to meet our heroes and also work with them. I've been fortunate to work alongside most of the big names and for that I feel fortunate.
What does your perfect day away from the office look like?
I must confess I am a work junkie so I couldn't be happier being "in the office" but on a day off, I enjoy a small gathering with friends to chew the fat over a nice meal. Throw a scotch and coke in the mix and I'm happy.
Do you have any raceday superstitions or rituals?
I guess I do have some quirks on raceday. Firstly I get to the races very early. I would get there 2 hours before the first even if I don't have to. I have a certain way I mark my form guide and if somebody else touches it, I can get a little touchy. Nobody can read my writing but even when the guide is covered in ink, it makes sense to me.
At what store would you most like to max out your credit card?
Flight Centre! I love travel and the more you do it, the more places I decide I want to visit. A lot of my travel has been around racing and nearly every country has racing. I've got about 15 countries that I haven't visited that are on the bucket list. Looks like I'll be slapping it on the plastic for some time to come.
Star Wars or Star Trek?
Star Wars. Not massive on either but Star Wars would get my vote. I'm not a great movie man, so I won't be winning any trivia nights in the future.