A Mr. Angry musing

13th October 2014 : It really should be better than this

Compared to the dark ages of the late 1960's, we've never had it so good - a phrase coined rather ironically by right-wing Prime Minister Harold McMillan in the late 50's. Dark ages - well it seemed so, with racing results provided by the Light Programme round about 5.45, and next day's runners provided in the (Edinburgh) Evening News, as poor a newspaper as you could ever imagine.

As for the 'live' racing coverage provided in smoke-infested rooms run by bookmakers, the blower was king, and many fell in love with that object.

But, technology did creep in, initially with teletext and SIS before making giant strides via t'internet and subscription racing channels.

Fast forward to the present day and 2 dedicated channels, At The Races (ATR) and Racing UK (RUK) share the spoils of British racecourses, with each delving into the best across the sea in Ireland and France respectively.
Yet as lords of the manor SKY continue to press forward with breathtaking innovations - HD and red button options spring to mind - ATR & RUK seem to be resting on their laurels (or bank balances) instead of providing better customer experience.

So Saturday and Sunday found me ensconced on the sofa (will this chest infection ever clear up?) with a myriad of races to choose from. Hexham on Saturday seemed to draw a large crowd, and their Class 3 handicap hurdle caught my attention as there were 2 runners who were in a different class from the remainder. Duly picked one, and sat back with anticipation.
"There'll be a delay to the 3.55 at Hexham." ATR's Cooper announced to the viewing public (at around 3.53) "The Hexham executive have approved a request to delay the start till the end of the Cesarewitch", a 2m 2f handicap run at Newmarket which had yet to start and due to be shown on RUK & C4. Put up 8 flights of hurdles and you've got an interesting race.
Anyway, Big Easy duly comes home and 5 minutes later, ATR are faced with another quandary. "Aaah, there's a clash with the 4 o'clock at Fairyhouse, and I'm not sure where we'll take the commentary from" Sir Robert informs us.
So, split screen with largest split and commentary coming from Fairyhouse.....
On knees, close up to TV with laptop open to determine colours, it wasn't an enjoyable experience. Less so when my selection was on an 'off day', and the other one considered scooted in at double figures!

Sunday, still feeling under the weather but RUK have coverage of a top class jumps card from Auteuil plus the Velka Pardubicka from the Czech Republic (a country, I noted, who has prospered since extracting itself from a cumbersome Czechoslovakian government).
The RUK Sunday presenters, an Englishman with a loud, booming voice and a completely incomprehensible Frenchman, are both fine tipsters (Lydia and her sidekick were at Goodwood, although sharing a similar presenting profile as their studio colleagues). Throughout the early afternoon, the duo promoted their exclusive, live coverage of the Velka (a mix between the Grand National and the Members Open at Friar's Haugh), even informing us that there were special event parties being held throughout the UK!!

3.35 was the official off time in Pardubice, and as post time approached in a leisurely manner on course, our English Boomer re-assured us that the Goodwood executive were holding back the 5f sprint at 3.40 so that the Velka could be shown 'live'. Or not so, as a false start abroad apparently changed the minds of the Goodwood Exec (were they aware the Velka take about 10 minutes?). The Boomer blasts in to the effect that RUK will record the whole Velka, and show "as live" after the sprint at Goodwood. Sprint finished, and off we go to ....Auteuil. 'Just bear with us', says The Boomer 'we'll have the Velka in its entirety, exclusively, after the Auteuil chase'.
So, eventually the Velka was shown - and well done once again to Kelso favourite Jan Faltesjek - but not live, and just not quite the same. The Boomer didn't mention the feedback from those UK parties, funnily enough.

If these Racing Channels, and if you're watching then you're paying a subscription directly or indirectly, choose to show so much racing, then a better service must be provided. (As an aside, it doesn't take a brain surgeon to work out why so many races are shown - just look at which industry 'sponsors' each day's racing).

The answer has of course already been provided by Sky's technology on Champions League evenings. Jeepers, even the aging, dinosaur that is our Beeb (which continues to proudly provide unbiased media coverage) has delivered RED BUTTON event selectivity. View your preferred event from extensive TV coverage of a sport.

Now, there you go ATR & RUK, provide Red Button technology, no more split screens, delayed recordings and that will be a true racing experience for your customers.
And after that, well, HD will be a dawdle.......

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