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Commentators rabitting on at the end of races

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  • #20334
    eddie case
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    • Total Posts 1215

    Jim McGrath at Wolves tonight a good example, seems to take him forever to call all the runners at the end of a race even when it’s a tight finish.
    Presumably they’ve been told recently to call all the finishers if possible but what’s the point and it gives even more time for the clever dick judges not to call a photo.

    #379588
    The Judge
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    • Total Posts 74

    My understanding is that commentators are now required to call the whole field past the line (as far as is practical / possible) on At The Races-covered courses.

    #379592
    CrustyPatch
    Participant
    • Total Posts 916

    My understanding is that commentators are now required to call the whole field past the line (as far as is practical / possible) on At The Races-covered courses.

    Didn’t know that, to be honest, but I had noticed that the commentators on courses covered by At The Races were keeping going at the end longer than they used to do.
    But it’s far better if they do that, rather than just stopping after the first two or three have crossed the line, as happens so often with Ian Bartlett and Malcolm Tomlinson. Graham Goode used to do that at the end of his course commentaries as well, sometimes suddenly stopping after naming only the winner and not even the second and third.
    People are interested in the down-field runners and there’s no real need to end a commentary so abruptly just at the key point.
    I suppose it at least means that "Smudge the Judge" Dave Smith can’t immediately leap in and announce the result of a tight finish instead of calling for a photo. He got his come-uppance a month or two ago, of course, when he tried to be clever and got it wrong.
    Amazing how few of the course commentators are prepared to put their head above the parapet and call the winner in a tight finish these days, even when it’s obvious to the viewer who has won. Tommo is one of the worst for saying "Leave that to the judge" or "that’s a photo". I suppose they don’t want to be slated if they get it wrong so they prefer to be ultra-cautious and not stick their neck out.
    It’s a shame because a commentator who calls the winner of a really tight finish nearly always gets showered with praise in the Press and on the internet forums.

    #379603
    graysonscolumngraysonscolumn
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    • Total Posts 6940

    I had also noticed the more widespread return of the habit of running through all finishers, though hadn’t noted one channel (or its courses) rather than the other had stipulated it. I would have thought any edict on the matter may have more likely emanated from Racetech, perhaps?

    Either way, it’s interesting to witness how things come full-circle like this. I’m sure the practice was far more prevalent in my very early racegoing days, but before this recent development there was only really Iain Mackenzie and Martin Harris who still did it.

    I’m sure it’s no coincidence that these are the two gentlemen on the Roster most actively involved in commentating at Point-to-Points, where calling all finishers over the line has remained the rule rather than the exception for as long as I have ever attended them.

    I don’t think it does any great harm, and it’s particularly nice in the amateur sport where even a simple completion means the world to so very, very many of its participants.

    I’m not sure who’s on duty at the two fixtures that kick off the Pointing season this Sunday – probably C Clapham esq at Black Forest Lodge and presumably either Steve Payne or James Crispe at Cottenham – but I very much doubt either will stop abruptly once the third horse home has crossed the line. Except in a thre-finisher race, of course. 8)

    gc

    The patron saint of lower-grade fare. A gently critical friend of point-to-pointing. Kindness is a political act.

    #379621
    CrustyPatch
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    • Total Posts 916

    As I said on the David Fitzgerald commentator thread, he earned my admiration for continuing commentating to the bitter end on two pony races at Southwell and, in doing so, mentioning the name of every one of the young riders from winner to last as they passed the line.
    What a thrill that would have been for them and their proud parents, to hear their names mentioned so many times by the commentator. I’m sure they wouldn’t have regarded it as "rabbiting on".
    I realise that serious punters probably don’t want to hear the names of the also-rans in "proper races" but there is definitely a place for not suddenly stopping commentating after the first couple of horses have gone past the post.
    After all, many of the punters on beaten horses will want to know where they have finished, especially those who have not memorised the colours and rely on the commentator to tell them the finishing order (assuming it’s not one of the many courses where they don’t have the sound turned up enough to hear the commentary when the crowd starts shouting).
    As far as Iain Mackenzie is concerned, he sometimes keeps going at the end so long that he is in danger of crashing into the runners coming out for the next race. All credit to him. Certainly gives the judge a bit longer. Dave Smith must hate it.

    #379627
    eddie case
    Member
    • Total Posts 1215

    CrustyPatch,

    As I said in my first post it is to Dave Smith & Co’s advantage not disadvantage, as it increases the length of time they have to call the result without calling a photo.
    I only rarely recall commentators only calling the first and second, they by and large always called the first four.

    Part of the excitement and tension should be the announcement of a photo and then being left to ponder for a while and maybe even have a bet on it and then hear the winner announced. Not have some monotonous voice droning on and on going through the field when it’s been a head bobbing finish.
    Can you imagine the commentator going through the field in Roberto/ Rheingold’s or Secreto/El Gran Senor’s Derbys? People by and large want to know the winner not those down the field.

    You’ve got to wonder at ATR reasoning especially when they appear totally unconcerned about viewers hearing the commentary at the start of the race, their presenters regularly hand over after the race has been in motion a 100yds or so, maybe it’s to compensate.

    #379651
    CrustyPatch
    Participant
    • Total Posts 916

    Part of the excitement and tension should be the announcement of a photo and then being left to ponder for a while and maybe even have a bet on it and then hear the winner announced. Not have some monotonous voice droning on and on going through the field when it’s been a head bobbing finish.

    Yes, I see the point you are making, Eddie. Don’t tell "Smudge the Judge" Dave Smith. He loves spoiling that for everyone by immediately chiming in with the result even in the tightest of finishes.
    I loved it when he messed it up in a big way by calling the wrong result and then compounded it by again making a second announcement that was wrong. As I said on an earlier thread about the incident, Alex Hammond played a blinder on At The Races by getting it right and doing so with great humour and modesty. She’s such a little darling.
    In a Directory of the Turf entry for Smithy a few years ago, I noticed his email address started with "smudgethejudge@ ….". He loves it. Wouldn’t be so smug when he got the boot as a racecourse commentator.
    Some commentators love bringing in the judge instead of trying to be brave and at least attempting to call the result in a tight finish. Mike Cattermole brazenly said: "That’s one for you, judge" instead of calling what he thought was the winner in a race and, then to compound the felony, in another race, said something like: "That’s one for you, Dave Smith" in another head-bobber.
    I must confess I like to hear the commentator continuing with listing the placed horses.
    There was once the opposite problem at Market Rasen when veteran commentator John Penney suddenly stopped commentating well before the line. He must have had a Longchamp moment even though there weren’t two winning posts. Why he suddenly stopped, I don’t know. I was quite close to him in the stands because the commentary box is off the stepped area of the main grandstand and the commentator could be clearly seen in those days. I turned round to look with disdain at him. He kept staring blanking ahead as the horse he had called as the winner was overtaken in the final few hundred yards by the second horse, which went on to win.
    I was expecting dear old Mr J.R.Penney to realise his blunder, quickly pick up the microphone and hurriedly correct his mistake and say who had passed the post in the lead. But no, stony silence. An inexplicable gaffe. I never heard him do it again.
    You’re right about At The Races often handing over late to the commentary. The otherwise admirable Gina Bryce is the worst offender, as mentioned on another discussion.

    #379673
    The Judge
    Member
    • Total Posts 74

    I had also noticed the more widespread return of the habit of running through all finishers, though hadn’t noted one channel (or its courses) rather than the other had stipulated it. I would have thought any edict on the matter may have more likely emanated from Racetech, perhaps?

    gc

    AFAIK there is a Commentator User Group which comprises members from Racetech, RUK, ATR, Channel 4, the racecourses, betting shops etc, so it wouldn’t surprise me if each can have their own requests within reason (note the regular placement of Hoiles, Machin and previously Goode as course commentators at Channel 4 second meetings). Certainly since late summer the percentage of races on ATR courses where the commentator has attempted the name the whole field passing the line is much higher than on RUK courses. Contrast David Fitzgerald’s deliveries at Sedgefield and Wetherby this week. At ATR-covered Sedgy, whole fields were called past the line in each race, whereas there was at least one race at RUK-covered Wetherby where Fitzgerald was happy to stop at fourth place, even though it was straightforwardly possible to keep going.

    #379682
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
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    Some commentators love bringing in the judge instead of trying to be brave and at least attempting to call the result in a tight finish.

    Four reasons why they may be disinclined to do so:-

    Firstly if they do call the wrong horse in a photo finish they will get slagged off on certain forums,

    Secondly the commentaries are broadcast around the world and are available on archive in a multitude of places. As one caller said to me "you don’t want an incorrect call being kept for posterity" It’s relatively OK to take a punt with the decision in a live call but it looks silly on a replay.

    Thirdly a large number of commentary positions are poorly positioned, coupled with some scanky camera angles, make calling a tight finish a hiding to nothing unless you really know the course well.

    Finally, and this is more historical, but the legacy still remains, moreso with the longer serving callers. Commentators used to be told in no uncertain terms, even in the 90’s, that the job of identifying the winner is the judges not the commentators. Older forumites will recall there was a time when commentators had to stop calling when the leaders were 100 yards from the line

    #379701
    CrustyPatch
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    • Total Posts 916

    My understanding is that commentators are now required to call the whole field past the line (as far as is practical / possible) on At The Races-covered courses.

    Come to think about it, there may be a bit of supporting evidence for this.
    I’ve noticed a few times on At The Races that the commentator will stop commentating for a second or two after about the first four or five runners home and then, after that slight pause, will carry on calling the rest of the field home.
    The clue is that, when he does call the later runners finishing, you can now hear the judge in the background announcing the result on-course. Meaning, of course, that the public on the track aren’t hearing the tail-end of the commentary but the At The Races viewers are.
    I’m sure this must be what is happening, from the number of times I have heard it. Try listening for the judge yourselves in At The Races events when the commentator is still continuing to call them home in the later stages of races for the TV audience. See what you think.
    Ironically, it was again David Fitzgerald when I first noticed this, although not this week but quite a few weeks ago. The second or two’s pause seemed to be when he was perhaps pressing a button on his microphone equipment so that the tail-end of his commentary would not be heard on course but would be on At The Races.

    #379705
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
    Participant
    • Total Posts 4602

    The clue is that, when he does call the later runners finishing, you can now hear the judge in the background announcing the result on-course. Meaning, of course, that the public on the track aren’t hearing the tail-end of the commentary but the At The Races viewers are.

    Sorry to disappoint you Crusty but we are sometimes also getting the full roll-call on-course as well, although it is hit and miss.

    #379709
    eddie case
    Member
    • Total Posts 1215

    CrustyPatch,

    That pause did/does occur sometimes when as you say the judge could announce the result but is not always the case. Brian Goodwill waited last night till McGrath had finished all his commentary before announcing the result. I think this is more the norm now as judges realise it gives them more time to announce a result without resorting to calling a photo.

    Even McGrath didn’t go through all the finishers in some races last night as they passed the post and if you think about it nearly all the runners have gone past the post by the time the commentator has said the fourth horse especially on the flat, so in effect they are being set an extremely difficult task for some unknown reason by ATR.

    Do people really want the names of 30 horses trotted out at the end of the Hunt Cup?

    #379713
    Eclipse First
    Member
    • Total Posts 1571

    Given that you can watch a re-run of every UK race on either ATR or Racing UK (via sportinglife.com) for free, it gives the form students a chance to analyze every facet. Depending on the connexion speed and hardware, the quality of picture will vary so it may help when trying to identify the tenderly ridden animal finishing a never nearer sixth.

    #379716
    CrustyPatch
    Participant
    • Total Posts 916

    CrustyPatch,

    That pause did/does occur sometimes when as you say the judge could announce the result but is not always the case. Brian Goodwill waited last night till McGrath had finished all his commentary before announcing the result.
    Do people really want the names of 30 horses trotted out at the end of the Hunt Cup?

    I think, with David Fitzgerald, he must realise he goes on perhaps a bit too long in bigger-field races so presses the "silent" button for the course commentary to give the judge chance to announce the result. He then continues ad nauseum right to the bitter end for At The Races. Youthful enthusiasm, perhaps, because it’s certainly him I notice it with occasionally.
    I suppose some judges patiently wait if the commentator does not go on too long or if they are not given a sufficiently appropriate window by the commentator temporarily stopping and pressing the "silent" button for the course feed before resuming for the At The Races service. Have to say, it’s only really been David Fitzgerald where I have noticed this.
    You’re quite right that nobody wants 30 runners trotted out at the end of the Hunt Cup. No doubt the commentator will give up after the first 10 or 15!

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