Grand National - I Was Wrong


I’m more than happy to shout this from the rooftops  - I WAS WRONG.

After the last two years I was dreading the 2013 National and as I said two blogs ago I had some reservations about the changes bought in ahead of this years renewal.

My fears were wholly unfounded.

Although  I could not face watching the race live my relief was palpable when just after 16:25 on Saturday I received a text which simply said “all seem to be back OK”.

When I later watched a recording of the race I can say, for the first time in years I enjoyed watching the race. The fences certainly looked to be more forgiving and that all the runners were still standing coming to the Canal Turn must be unprecedented.

The race did not look to be any less of a spectacle, so well done to Aintree, the BHA and all those involved in the latest changes – all credit where credit is due.

Let us not get too complacent though, this is but one year, but the signs are good and hopefully the more extreme critics will quieten down now.

I was also wrong in my estimation of the number of viewers who would watch the race on Channel Four. The viewing figures were actually better than those of the BBC in recent years.

I did record the Channel Four coverage and, for me, it was like the Curates Egg.

Some of the background articles were excellent, it was good to see the excellent Gareth O’Brien being used.

There were some oddities though, quite why they went through the runners in reverse order is beyond me.

There was barely any coverage of the runners in the parade ring.

I also found the coverage of the race itself disappointing. It wasn’t their best performance. Too many of the shots were from too far away and it was difficult to identify runners.

It also seems that having gone to the expense of installing a flying camera, it was going to be used to the absolute maximum. To use the camera to show the 14th fence when the view was blocked by a big screen is absolutely unforgivable.

The shot of The Chair was also poor.

As for the commentary, Richard Hoiles sounded as if he was wearing a muffle and the usually excellent Ian Bartlett just sounded as if he wasn’t really that interested.  Also why did Simon Holt cover the section after Valentines. He clearly had to do it off a monitor, it seems more sense to have had Richard cover Valentines to the Melling Road.

The re-run analysis of the race was unbelievable to the point of embarrassment. It seemed Nick Luck was trying to second guess what was going to happen . At one point he said “We’ll freeze it there” and the VT carried on running.
By contrast the RUK coverage with the course commentary was far better. The camera angles were far superior and it was much easier to follow what was happening. The commentary was good and Stewart Machin rose to the occasion was the lead commentator, even resisting his trademark puns.

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