Racing And The Paralympics

Twitter has been twittering today about Channel Four’s racing coverage during the Paralympic Games.

In case you have not already heard the racing coverage on the two Saturdays of the Paralympic Games will be on More 4 as opposed to the main channel, which will be used for the Paralympic coverage.

Some are bemoaning the move saying it will harm racing but I would disagree. Nearly all the country has switched to digital and More 4 is available on the digital platforms, therefore anybody wanting to watch the racing can easily tune into More 4 is they so wish.

Many people seem to still be in the mindset that terrestrial television consists of BBC1, BBC2, ITV and C4. Those days are long gone.

It bemuses me that people have a fit of the vapours when the BBC used to show racing on BBC2 instead of BBC1 – why is that a such a big issue?

Sure when BBC2 first began broadcasting it was a minority channel, indeed you needed a special television to receive it. But that is no more and I can see no issue whether aprogram is shown on BBC1 or BBC2.

People have been complaining that BBC1 Olympic coverage switches to BBC2 for news coverage. It is a big issue for viewers? It is for the BBC and the reason for the news being retained on BBC1 is the technical problems associated with providing regional news on BBC2.

There have been suggestions that the Group One races should be shown on Channel Four with the shoulder races on More 4, however I believe such fragmented coverage would result in more complaints and confusion. Surely it is better to have the racing in a single package on a single channel?

The other point to bear in mind is the viewing figures and public interest for the Paralympics will be far higher than for the racing, hence its place on what as perceived as the main channel.


Talking of the Olympics I am happy to admit I was totally wrong about them.

I didn’t want them in London, I wanted them to go to Paris.  I thought the cost obscene and I thought they would be an absolute shambles.

I’ve been absolutely hooked. Forget about racing the Olympics are taking my full attention. I certainly wish I had applied for tickets, although I do have the Paralympics to look forward to as I have a fistful of tickets for those games.

I love the atmosphere, the sportsmanship where athletes are, generally, happy win or lose. They are magnanimous in victory and gracious in defeat – attitudes which should be adopted by the overpaid Prima Donnas who engage in our so called national sport.

The “home” team have done well although I do, to a certain extent, agree with the comments made my Morrissey that there is too much jingoism.

Whilst it is understandable focus will concentrate on the “Team GB” (what about Northern Ireland) athletes it does mean the achievements of athletes from other nations can be overlooked.

Whist the achievements of Sir Chris Hoy and Bradley Wiggins are, rightly, to be applauded they are overshadowed by the achievements of Michael Phelps – yet the BBC could not even be bothered to show his final race live as part of their main coverage, nor did they show the special presentation made to him afterwards.    

What is to be applauded are the 24 extra channels showing events in full, sometimes without the distraction of commentary, which can be an added bonus. Of course such extensive coverage does have a downside as there is so much to choose from, at least with one channel you can blame the producer if your favourite sport is not shown.   

As I said racing has taken a back seat, the only racing I have been to during the Olympics was a northern tour, for which hotels had been booked. I may do Shergar Cup day on Saturday but my view is I can go racing 362 days a year, a home Olympics is just once or twice in a lifetime.

Another by-product of the games is the impact it has had on London as a whole. Normally I hate going to London but it has been a changed place the past couple of weeks. People are smiling, people are talking – it’s as if one has arrived in a parallel universe. London has transformed from one of the most unfriendly, unwelcoming cities in the world to a friendly, welcoming one. I would like to think that will remain as part of the legacy – I suspect it will not.

I may squeeze a few days racing in between the main and Paralympics but the racing hiatus will return once the Paralympics begin.

A great sporting summer.


  Return to The Beast Home