Saturday’s John Smiths Grand National at Aintree is the biggest day of the year in the sport of horse racing, regularly attracting a TV audience of well over 10 million across Britain, Ireland and further afield. This year, it will be televised by Channel 4 for the first time ever after it won the exclusive terrestrial broadcast rights to all UK racing from this year.
The BBC had previously broadcast over 50 years of the race including memorable moments like Red Rum, Aldiniti, the 1997 bomb scare and many more. RTE 2 will broadcast live coverage hosted by Tracy Piggott in a programme starting at 3.15 with the feature race at 4.15.
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[ismember]Offices and homes across the country will be running sweepstakes on the race and if you want to join them you can download a kit from here. (Thanks to the Daily Mirror).
Channel 4 will certainly be looking to put its own stamp on the race and has raised plenty of comment, not all of it positive with a trailer that shows horses racing through the streets of Liverpool, and billing horse racing as ‘the original extreme sport.’
Among the 45 cameras covering the action on the day will be one on a low flying helicopter, one on a 5 metre arm extending from a truck travelling alongside the race and one inside the famous Bechers Brook fence.
“We know that and we’ve got the various benchmarks from the other events we’ve done, from the cricket to even the Paralympics,” she said.
“Channel 4’s sporting high came during last year’s Paralympics, when a peak audience of over 11 million watched the opening ceremony,” said Channel 4 Racing spokesperson Hannah Walker.
“That is a benchmark and regardless of whether we hit that or not in year one, our aim is to bring coverage the likes of which has never been seen before and to bring the great race to the public in a fresh way.”
Following a massively successful Cheltenham Festival Irish racing professionals will be hoping to continue their winning ways and four of the top five in the betting have travelled from Carlow, Wexford and Kildare for the big race.
Among those are Seabass, third in the race last year and hoping to give Katie Walsh the honour of being the first ever woman to ride the winner.[/ismember]
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