Thursday, June 17, 2010

Fear of Balding

The gold standard for horse racing coverage is set by Channel 4. It has the peerless John Francome and shrewdies like Jim McGrath, Alistair Down and Emma Spencer. It even has an Essex girl Tanya Stevenson keeping an eye on the exchanges and a finger on the pulse of the betting market. All professionals, all enthusiasts. Ok there is that bufoon McCririck but he's been marginalised in recent times.

Then you have the shambles that is BBC coverage. Clare Balding would make a great head girl, or perhaps captain of the lacrosse team but she's a ponderous disaster as a presenter. Her speciality is stating the bleeding obvious with heavy emphasis. Then they cruelly give this large ample arsed woman the tiniest co-presenter on TV, the famously inarticulate Willie Carson. They are never prepared. Carson keeps getting asked questions he has palpably to bluff answers to and there's any amount of off camera muttering as things unwind farcically. Their Royal Ascot coverage is a bad joke. Before the big races they have Balding gallumphing around the paddock pointing out who's who - like a nosey neighbour. Their post-race analysis is done by another distractingly diverse couple - the miniatiure ex-jockey Kevin Darley and a very tall pundit. Finally you have a guy called Richie who gallops around like a dog with two mickies grinning inanely as he asks questions of brain melting banality. The only relief is when the race starts and the one professional on the team, the commentator (another Jim McGrath) takes over. And don't get me started about the camp fashion spotter - straight out of a Carry On movie. What a bloody farce. It's fair wrecking my buzz and the racing itself is so wonderful.