Channel 4 announces Grand National coverage


Nick Luck to present the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival

Team to include Frankie Dettori and Gok Wan with expert contributions from Ruby Walsh

James Nesbitt will front opening sequence

Build up to the big race all week and across the channel including Gypsy Wedding,

Alan Carr Chatty Man and Weekend Brunch Specials

Viewers will see The National captured like never before with new innovations and cameras

Film4 documentary Dark Horse will also be shown

Channel 4 today unveiled its coverage plans for the 2015 Crabbie’s Grand National incorporating over 20-hours of horseracing related build-up programming broadcast for the Festival.

Multi-award-winning broadcaster, Nick Luck, will present the three-day festival from April 9th to 11th, with jockey and broadcaster Frankie Dettori and fashion expert Gok Wan both joining the Grand National team in 2015, following their success on Channel 4’s Royal Ascot coverage last year. They will be complemented by an expert team of reporters and pundits that includes Alice Plunkett, Emma Spencer, Mick Fitzgerald, Jim McGrath and Graham Cunningham.

Continuing Channel 4’s commitment to innovation in their racing coverage, the significant production commitment to the UK’s biggest horse race includes the deployment of additional cameras for 2015. The gilet starter camera, used for the first time at Cheltenham Festival, will be used for the dramatic Aintree starts, as well the return of the innovative wire camera and other principal technology.

The significant build up to the Grand National Festival on 4 began last week with a major new animated promotional campaign and continues with Grand National specials of major Channel 4 shows including Gypsy Wedding: The Grand National on Thursday 9th, Alan Carr’s Chatty Man on the evening of Friday 10th and a three-hour Weekend Brunch special on the morning of the big race.

Stephen Lyle, Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Sport, adds: "I am delighted that Nick Luck will front our 2015 Grand National Festival coverage alongside the best team in racing. Gok, Frankie and James are wonderful additions to our coverage which is set to be informed, entertaining and able to capture the excitement and drama of Aintree.

"Once again, the channel continues to provide this great Festival with significant programme support and with further enhanced technology, Channel 4 continues to bring people right to the heart of this national event.”

Channel 4 Racing: Crabbie’s Grand National presenting team and features

Channel 4’s racing coverage across the three-day festival will incorporate over 15 hours of live action with five daily races. The Morning Line will preview racing action from Thursday to Saturday in its usual 8am slot, with Saturday’s show extended to 10am – beginning Channel 4’s full day programming based around the Grand National. Alice Plunkett with host The Morning Line joined daily by Tom Segal and the Walsh clan that include jockeys Katie and Ruby, and father Ted Walsh plus an array of guests.

Afternoon coverage starts at 1:45pm (April 9th & 10th) and at 1:00pm on Grand National Day (April 11th) presented by Nick Luck. He will be joined by Alice Plunkett with Emma Spencer, Jim McGrath and Graham Cunningham providing unrivalled analysis from the track-side studio.

With exclusive access to the Stables, Jockeys Changing Room and Steward’s Room Alice Plunkett and Mick Fitzgerald and will bring all the atmosphere of the thrilling three-day meeting to the screen enabling Channel 4 viewers to be even closer to the action than ever before.

Gok Wan will make his Aintree debut, joining the team for Ladies Day and the Grand National. Off the back of a hugely successful 2014 debut for Channel 4 Racing, Gok will provide fashion and lifestyle commentary. While the UK’s most recognised flat jockey and broadcaster, Frankie Dettori will give his expert opinions on the feature raceday.

Actor and racehorse owner, James Nesbitt, also plays a significant role within Channel 4’s Grand National Day coverage with a bespoke opening feature that reinforces the prestige of the nation’s favourite horse race.

Channel 4’s principal commentator, Simon Holt, will be supported by two additional commentators - Richard Hoiles and Ian Barlett - for the feature four miles, three and a half furlongs contest that incorporates 30 fences that includes landmarks such as Becher’s Brook, the Canal Turn, Valentines and the Chair. Tanya Stevenson will be on-hand to relay the betting markets with Brian Gleeson offering an Irish perspective.

Coverage from the Crabbie’s Grand National Festival will also include a broad range of features to complement the live racing action. Alice Plunkett interviews Katie Walsh while the accomplished jockey provides running commentary from the saddle while jumping Aintree’s most prolific fences.

Graham Cunningham visits Dr Richard Newland, trainer of 2014 Grand National winner Pineau De Re, to reflect on the passing year. Brian Gleeson chats with legendary owner, JP McManus, about his passion for racing, the joys of working with AP McCoy and the dream of a fairy-tale ending. While, Nick Luck interviews the Grand National winning trainer, Jonjo O’Neil about his hopes for a second victory with Shutthefrontdoor with further insights into his stable jockey, the soon to be crowned 20 times champion - AP McCoy.

Channel 4 Racing Innovation
This year’s coverage of the Grand National will be enhanced with the latest innovations that include a high motion tracking camera - a first for British racing. It is also thought to be first time used anywhere in the world on sport.

The camera will capture breath taking imagery of live racing action at six times the normal speed. Those clips will be played back to give some dynamic images of the races over the four days including the Grand National.

A total of 49 cameras will be deployed around the Aintree course. The technical set-up on course will include:

  • A starter gilet camera will be worn for all Channel 4’s televised races including the Grand National which attracts a 40-runner field.
  • Radio hi motion Super-Loupe: another first for British Racing, this camera brings to life the most dramatic pre-racing action and post-racing images.
  • A Jimmy Jib camera positioned at the Chair will show the challenge of the fence from a lower angle.
  • A new camera position will be used this year with at the Canal turn, which will show the tight jump and turn that is part of this iconic fence.
  • The Camcat wire-cam system retains its position - running alongside the inside track from a height of 20 – 40 metres and two fences out. Viewers will see the field race run under the camera before heading off into the country to complete the final circuit. It will also show the horses jump the national fences such as the Chair and the Water Jump against the backdrop of the packed crowd.
  • The Scorpio Arm camera (which has been developed to use specifically at Aintree ) will once again be used to follow the action around the track.
  • The crane is mounted onto a vehicle and is able to elevate from a running rail height to a reach of 18 feet giving unparalleled views of the 40-horse field.

Denise Large, Programme Director for Channel 4 Racing, says: “The Grand National is like a feature film in terms of racing and after last year's exhilarating race - when Tidal Bay took out Across The Bay underneath the overhead wire camera which provided an amazing view of this.
“I'd expect to have every angle covered to bring this spectacle to the screens. It's the most thrilling of races to cover.”

Channel 4’s Horse Tracker app will run across all three days of the Grand National Festival with it’s enhanced map facility that provides visual representation as to where your selected horse(s) is within the 40-runner field; and an audience tracking data that can highlight the most tracked horse in the app.

Online services will provide a comprehensive service across the Festival to support viewers’ experience. Multi-media live text commentary, daily reviews, on-course reporting and specific Grand National features will be available at plus proactive social media to engage all audiences.

Build up coverage

Channel 4 launched its build up for the Crabbie’s Grand National on Friday March 20th with an animated promotional trail which portrays the story of the original extreme sport. Designed to capture the imagination of both racing fans and non-racing fans, the promotional campaign celebrates the horse and its unique attributes. Speed, stamina, strength and determination are highlighted through a 60 second trail that continues to be broadcast extensively across the Channel 4 portfolio.

The trail concept was commissioned by 4Creative and brought to life by multi-award winning Nexus Directors Adam Foulkes and Alan Smith with sound provided by Siren and music composition by Alex Baranowski.

In the week building up to the event, Channel 4 will broadcast Gypsy Wedding: The Grand National at 10pm on Thursday, April 9th. On Friday April 10th Channel 4 will broadcast an Alan Carr Chatty Man once again featuring a celebrity Grand National sweepstake and special racing related guests.

Grand National Day on Saturday April 11th starts 8am with a two-hour special of The Morning Line followed by a three-hour edition of Weekend Brunch featuring Simon Rimmer cooking from a VW camper van on the winning line. Tim Lovejoy and Stacey Soloman will present the show from London that also includes special guests Jodie Kidd, Liza Faulkner, Lethal Bizzle and music from Sleeping with Sirens ahead of the live racing that begins at 1pm.

Post Grand National sees the premiere of Dark Horse: The Incredible Story of Dream Alliance. This Film4 documentary is released in cinemas nationwide on April 17th and retells the unique story of a horse, bred and raised on a Blackwood allotment, that ventures into the world of horse racing. The working-class syndicate overcome the thrills and spills of the sport to go on and win their regional crown jewel - the Welsh Grand National. Pride, achievement and the love of all things thoroughbred are reflected in this 86-minute film.

Channel 4 Racing is sponsored by Dubai.

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