It was a busy time for me with hardly a day off between Christmas day and the New Year, but you’ll get no complaints as I enjoyed every moment of it and I know how lucky I am to be doing this job. Being paid to go racing and be at the heart of the action is a privilege but also a great buzz and its addictive.
With that in mind I imagine it must have been a hard decision for Clare Balding to limit her days on Channel 4 in 2015 to just the Cheltenham Festival and Royal Ascot, but it has lead to speculation as to who will present racing’s biggest terrestrial show, the Grand National.
I am sure many of you will have heard the likes of Jeremy Kyle and Ant & Dec mentioned as possible main presenters for the Aintree extravaganza, but for what its worth I think my colleague Nick Luck should be the front man.
Those showbiz names are all very good at what they do, but they are unproven in holding together a ‘live’ television broadcast of horse racing. Of course I understand that its more than just knowledge of the sport and skills in front of the camera being considered by those in charge of Channel 4 and being known beyond the sport of racing is important in appealing to the ‘casual’ viewer, but I really feel that racing’s big day should be fronted by racing’s best presenter.
When people point to ‘non’ racing presenters hosting the Grand National on the BBC it is worth bearing in mind that was a legacy of the days of ‘Grandstand’ where other sports were included as part of the National show and it was the ‘Grandstand’ anchor, such as David Coleman, Des Lynam or Sue Barker, that held it all together.
Quite simply Nick has the best credentials to host the Grand National for Channel 4, with his extensive experience of live television, his excellent knowledge of the sport and bar Clare, he is the best and best known presenter in racing.
I won’t be at Aintree this year as it clashes with the US Masters at Augusta which is just one of the highlights of the upcoming period for me. In addition to the excellent domestic action which I will be working on for Channel 4, I will also be involved in the broadcasts from the 2015 Dubai World Cup Carnival which gets underway in early January.
I have been out there for a few meetings since the season started back in October and seen how the new ‘dirt’ surface at Meydan has bedded in. It is clear that racing handy is a big advantage. Only two horses have made up significant ground from the back in a winning cause since the first race at the track in November.
One of that duo races on Thursday and is worth looking out for. His name is Faulkner. He’s a five-year-old who is unbeaten in two starts and has an enormous amount of potential. He steps up to seven furlongs for the first time and that looks right up his street.
The feature race on the card is the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 and Satish Seemar’s Surfer is sure to run well. He’s got a bit to find with Outstrip on official ratings but he’s proven he handles the surface and his well being when winning over course and distance just before Christmas.
I’ll be having a bet on both those horses.