Channel 4 dedicates 20 hours to Grand National programming


New camera positions added for 2014 with 47 cameras in total

Build up includes Alan Carr Chatty Man: Grand National Special and Weekend Brunch

Channel 4 Horse Tracker app returns with innovative new features

Channel 4 today unveiled its plans for coverage of the 2014 Crabbie’s Grand National that incorporates some 20-hours of horseracing-related programming broadcast for the Grand National Festival from April 3rd to 5th. 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 two additional cameras for 2014, including a new jib camera to show the challenge of The Chair jump from a low angle – as well as four cameras within the fences and the return of the Camcat wirecam.

The acclaimed pairing of Clare Balding and Nick Luck will lead presentation of the three day festival alonmgside the Channel 4 Racing team – which includes Jim McGrath, Graham Cunningham, Alice Plunkett, Mick Fitzgerald and Rishi Persad.

A significant build up to the Grand National Festival on 4 – which began last week with the dramatic Original Extreme Sport promotional trail dramatising the story of the first ever steeplechase – continues with Grand National specials of major Channel 4 shows including Alan Carr’s Chatty Man on the Friday night and a three-hour Weekend Brunch special on the morning of the big race.

Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Sport, says: “Once again, I’m delighted with the programme support this great race has secured.

“With the race boasting a million pound prize fund for the first time, it’s fantastic that our build-up to the big spectacle on Saturday includes Grand National-themed programming on Thursday and Friday evening to support the racing on both those days. From 9am on Saturday viewers can soak up the atmosphere right through to the main event at 4.15pm.

“Across the three days of the Festival we’ll be bringing people right to the heart of the event and the sport through insightful features, experts on course and the amazing camera technology we’ve employed. The overhead Cam-cat adds its amazing vista of the field and in the Scorpio Arm, normally used to film high-speed car chases, we have a unique view as it travels in front of the horses at a height of 18 feet. We have also added equine locomotion expert Alan Wilson to our team to bring further insight into these incredible athletes.”

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 on Thursday and Friday in its usual 8am slot, with Saturday’s show moving to 9am to begin Channel 4’s full day programming based around the Grand National.

Afternoon coverage starts at 1:35pm (April 3 & 4) and at 1:00pm on Grand National Day (April 5) presented by Clare Balding. She will be joined by Nick Luck with 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, Mick Fitzgerald and Rishi Persad will bring all the atmosphere of the thrilling three-day meeting to the screen, enabling Channel 4 viewers to be closer to the action than ever before.

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 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. Clare Balding chats with last year’s winning jockey, Ryan Mania, about the day that changed his world. While last year’s winning trainers – Sue and Harvey Smith – reveal their 2014 chance with Mr Moonshine; there is an insightful feature examining the longest partnership in racing between trainer Philip Hobbs and stable jockey Richard Johnson; plus a Monbeg Dude fitness challenge between co-owner Nicky Robinson and rugby pal Kyle Traynor versus jockeys Sam Thomas and Mattie Batchelor; and an in-depth interview with Graham Wylie – owner of Grand National heavy-weight Tidal Bay.

Channel 4 Racing Innovation

Produced by IMG Media, the Channel 4 Racing team has built on 2013’s comprehensive coverage of The Grand National and will add a further two cameras – with a total of 47 cameras deployed in 2014 around the Aintree course. The technical set-up on course will include:

  • A new Jimmy Jib camera positioned at the Chair will show the challenge of the fence from a lower angle with two increased-height Jib Cranes used at the Canal Turn and in the Parade Ring.
  • The Camcat wire-cam system will return in 2014 and will run alongside the inside track from a height of 20 – 40 metres and two fences out. Viewers will see the field race under the camera before heading off into the country to complete the final circuit. It will also show the horses jump the iconic national fences such as the Chair and the Water Jump.
  • A tracking camera will be used to follow the action around the track and will carry a tracking crane to assist pictures. The crane is mounted onto a vehicle that will travel in front of the action as normal, but for the first time will be able to elevate from a running rail height to a reach of 18 feet giving unparalleled views of the 40-horse field.
  • As well as all the race cameras, a dedicated Becher’s Brook fence camera remains to cover iconic head on shots.
  • Award winning Aerial cameraman David Manton will film the event from a twin-engine, low noise helicopter.
  • The Superloupe Hi-Motion cameras that provided stunning Festival imagery will return to Aintree to capture the event and race day action, recording at speeds of 1,000 frames per second.
  • Four fence cameras will capture the true essence of the high-action and drama of the entire Grand National meeting. These will be cut into the middle of the first fence at which the 40 Grand National horses charge at speeds of 30 miles per hour. A camera will also be placed in the third fence - first open ditch with a six-foot gap between the front of the ditch and the fence itself and the impressive Becher’s Brook and Valentines.

Denise Large, Programme Director for Channel 4 Racing, says: “The Grand National is like a feature film in terms of racing - it needs watching carefully and I want viewers to see their horses as much as possible throughout and of course bring enjoyment to their screens.

“This year’s we’re using more cameras that ever before with a specific focus on the start, key fences and the final leap at the last.”

Channel 4’s award-winning Horse Tracker app will run across all three days of the Festival with new features that include a map providing visual representation as to where your selection 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 Grand National on Friday March 21st with the spectacular promotional trail which reimagined the story of the first ever recorded steeplechase – reported to have taken place in 1752 Ireland. The 90 second trail which has been broadcast extensively across the Channel 4 portfolio of channels was produced by the award winning in-house 4Creative team.

In the week building up to the event, Channel 4 will broadcast Jockey School at 10pm on Thursday, April 3rd. The one-hour First Cut documentary, which provides first time directors with terrestrial exposure, is filmed by Bianca Barker and follows three teenagers with troubled backgrounds, as they attempt to secure a career in racing through an intensive 10-week course at the Northern Racing College near Doncaster. This is followed at 11pm by the acclaimed documentary, How to Win the Grand National, presented by veterinary expert Mark Evans which examined the science of race horses and focuses on the genetics of this year’s Crabbie’s Grand National favourite Tea For Three.

On Friday April 4th Channel 4 will broadcast an Alan Carr Chatty Man: Grand National Special featuring Frankie Dettori and a celebrity Grand National sweepstake.

Grand National Day on Saturday April 5th starts at 9am with The Morning Line followed by a three-hour special edition of Weekend Brunch featuring Simon Rimmer cooking from a VW camper van on the winning line plus actress Chelsee Healey from Waterloo Road on-course. Tim Lovejoy and Amanda Byram will present the show that also includes special guest Jodie Kidd and music from The Vamps ahead of the live racing that begins at 1pm that afternoon.

Channel 4 Racing is sponsored by Dubai.

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