The BBCs horse racing coverage like Frankel has been put out to stud
Saturday saw the end of an era at Ascot. Not just Frankel’s last race, but a changing of the guard in sports broadcasting.
It is fitting that Frankel’s fourteenth - and final - run should also be the last BBC Flat-race broadcast.
Frankel won the £1.3million Qipco Champion Stakes. It was a fairytale ending to the career of the greatest racehorse ever. But such future unforgettable moments in the history of horse racing will not be covered by the BBC.
Channel 4 has snapped up the rights to air the crown jewels of flat-racing, including; the Grand National, Royal Ascot and the Epsom derby.
It’s a four year deal costing the broadcaster £15 million. It is truly the end of an era - and the start of one, for Channel 4 - at the BBC. For the first time since the BBC wasn’t the sole terrestrial broadcaster, one channel can legitimately claim to be the home of horse racing.
The BBC’s coverage had been much maligned in recent years. Little enthusiasm was shown for anything but huge mainstream events like the national. The horse racing connoisseur wasn’t offered consistent coverage.
With Channel 4’s £15 million commitment to the sport they see this as a significant property going forward. And with their recent coverage of the Paralympic games, Channel 4 have proven they’re capable of a fresh approach to broadcasting sports properties.
Broadcaster Clare Balding knew which way the wind was turning. She recently made a commitment to Channel 4, she will front 44 of its 88 days a year. Balding is almost universally adored after her stint as an Olympic’s presenter. She brought a knowledge and enthusiasm for her sport that was infectious.
It may be tough to match the BBC’s ratings, at first. But with Balding on board, and the fact that British horse racing fans know they have essentially one destination for terrestrial racing; it’s only a matter of time before Channel 4’s coverage becomes, like Balding, a national institution.
The BBC’s horse racing coverage, like Frankel, has been put out to stud.
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