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Racecourse commentator David Fitzgerald

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  • #20315
    CrustyPatch
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    New racecourse commentator David Fitzgerald is a breath of fresh air and I have been really impressed with him since he joined the pool of commentators this year. I know he has already been praised on this forum earlier in the year.
    I like listening to his commentaries and he does a first-class job, including frequent mentions of jockeys and trainers, bits of detail about where horses have run and a very fluent style.
    I was particularly impressed with him at Southwell a couple of months ago when At The Races showed two pony races that preceded the start of the “proper” action. During the running of those races, he mentioned the names of the young riders virtually every time he mentioned the name of the pony, including several times systematically naming the ponies and their riders in order from the leader to the last.
    What was particularly praiseworthy was that, even after the first three had passed the line, all including mention of the riders, he carried on naming the young riders and their mounts right up until the very last one had passed the line. This will have delighted the young jockeys themselves and their parents and families, many of whom will no doubt have bought a copy of the race video after hearing the riders mentioned so many times.
    Full credit to David for doing so. I’m sure the course will have been delighted too. Well done, too, to At The Races for continuing to show the race and the commentary until the very last pony had passed the line.
    So many commentators, including the likes of Ian Bartlett and Malcolm Tomlinson, would have stopped commentating after the first three had passed the line and we would have been highly unlikely to have got a mention of even the winning rider, never mind the entire field of ponies and riders from first to last.
    David Fitzgerald has, I hope, a bright future as a racecourse commentator. He is only 27 and I sincerely hope Racetech has given him another contract for next year. Considering his youth, he does a great job and has a good voice and a confident style of commentating.
    He was commentating at Sedgefield today and again did a fantastic job. I set the video for the At The Races coverage and am looking forward to watching it properly. He was due to be commentating the next day at Wetherby but sadly I don’t have Racing UK.
    I have not been able to find out much about him on the internet, apart from a couple of articles in the Racing Post saying he was joining the racecourse commentary team. I haven’t been able to find a picture of him, despite reading that he has worked for several of the satellite racing broadcasters. If anyone can provide a link to one, out of curiosity, would be grateful.
    David Fitzgerald obviously made the grade in joining the team this year. I had been expecting to see At The Races presenter Matt Chapman on the rota this year, as he had apparently been undergoing training, but he obviously didn’t cut the mustard. Unless there is another reason.
    No doubt David Fitzgerald will already have been told about next year’s contract. I look forward to finding out from the imminent January rota whether he has been given a contract. I would be amazed, and very disappointed, if he had not. No doubt someone can enlighten me. If anyone can tell me where else he works at the moment, would be grateful.
    Equally, I can’t wait to see whether Tommo has been included on next year’s commentating rota or whether he is being pensioned off for the crime of reaching the age of 60. I certainly hope he will be continuing, even though he is certainly out of favour with Channel 4 as a race commentator, not to mention his much reduced presenting appearances. His course commentaries are now virtually never used in Channel 4 broadcasts, apart from a solitary Saturday I remember at Newmarket that was taken from the course feed by Channel 4 during the summer (when all the other preferred commentators were at Royal Ascot or elsewhere, I seem to remember).
    I enjoyed his course commentaries from Fakenham last week, although even I got a bit fed up with the number of times he said “here at sunny Fakenham” and “here in the sunshine at Fakenham”.
    I remember reading on the forum that nobody was due to retire from the commentators’ pool this year. Presumably this means that Tommo and Iain Mackenzie are safe for another year. Graham Goode and Dave Smith bit the dust last year.
    ———————————————————————————–
    This is the text of one of the two Racing Post stories I managed to find about David Fitzgerald on the internet:
    ———————————————————————————————————
    THE public heard freelance broadcaster David Fitzgerald call a live race for the first time at Kempton on Wednesday evening, as the 26-year-old prepares to realise his ambition by joining the commentating roster next year.
    Fitzgerald, who lives near Woking in Surrey, has accepted a 12-month contract after successfully emerging from this year’s training programme, and was back behind the microphone for two races at Wolverhampton on Friday night to add to his experience before embarking on the new role.
    "I have not wanted to be anything but a racing commentator since I was 16, and I’m over the moon to be able to do it," says Fitzgerald.
    With Ian Bartlett and Richard Hoiles as his commentating mentors, and encouraged by Channel 4 Racing producer Andrew Franklin, Fitzgerald joined Racing UKin 2004 as an editorial assistant and has since been regularly heard in the voiceover booth. He has also worked for TurfTV and Ladbrokes.
    Fitzgerald, who will get a minimum of 40 meetings in 2011, names Fontwell as his favourite track, although he also admits to having a soft spot for Kempton, where he begins his new job officially on January 4. He adds: "It’s a fantastic opportunity for me and one I’m determined to make the most of."

    #379208
    robnorthrobnorth
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    • Total Posts 4580

    I wondered who that was covering Sedgefield. I was impressed, he’s got a nice easy style but keeps us well informed on the whole field. I look forward to hearing David regularly.

    Rob

    #379211
    LudditeLuddite
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    • Total Posts 69

    Agreed CrustyPatch, he did a meeting at my local track Huntingdon a few weeks ago and was very good. Hopefully we’ll hear more of him and less of some others next year.

    I thought I recognised him (from being on Racing UK a few times) round the paddock between races – hadn’t realised he is so young though.

    Is the commentators’ rota published in advance, by the way? It’s the first thing I look for in the programme when I arrive for a meeting.

    #379218
    CrustyPatch
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    • Total Posts 916

    Agreed CrustyPatch, he did a meeting at my local track Huntingdon a few weeks ago and was very good. Hopefully we’ll hear more of him and less of some others next year.

    I thought I recognised him (from being on Racing UK a few times) round the paddock between races – hadn’t realised he is so young though.

    Is the commentators’ rota published in advance, by the way? It’s the first thing I look for in the programme when I arrive for a meeting.

    The final version of the commentators’ rota is published for each month about two months in advance, with amendments issued for changes and amendments. The January one should be out very soon, which is when those not employed by the company (and without the benefit of a mole) will find out if David Fitzgerald has been given any days in January and, equally importantly, whether Tommo is still on the list. I’m sure he will be (but Graham Goode and "Smudge the Judge" Dave Smith were tellingly not on this January’s list after being axed).
    The contracts run on a calendar year, as I understand it.
    David Fitzgerald has a deceptively mature style for one so young. He’s also very good when the At The Races presenters hand over to him and have little chats with him in the minutes before the runners come under orders.
    For many years, Ascot never even gave a credit to the racecourse commentator. Every other knighted, double-barrelled-name official was listed but never the commentator. They eventually relented and started listing the commentator as well. Like you, it used to be the first thing I looked for in the racecard.
    I was once so disgusted at Catterick more than 25 years ago to find out that the commentator was the awful Mr B.L.Firth (Bryan Firth) on a New Year’s Day meeting that I stalked out of the course in disgust, without watching a single race. I sat all afternoon in the Bridge Hotel bar across the road sulking. I had been expecting the commentator to be Graham Goode, who had done the New Year’s Eve meeting the previous day that I had not been to, and was confidently expecting GG to be doing the second day. He wasn’t, much to my disgust, and was at Leicester. So much for trying to predict who the commentator would be! If anyone can beat that for being extremely sad, I will be amazed. At least I admit it!

    #379219
    graysonscolumngraysonscolumn
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    • Total Posts 6939

    Is the commentators’ rota published in advance, by the way? It’s the first thing I look for in the programme when I arrive for a meeting.

    I don’t think it’s

    publicly

    available in advance, alas (one of mine and I imagine also CrustyPatch’s main beefs!), though I know at least one caller has suggested on TRF this year that putting the name of the engaged in the

    Racing Post

    racecard would seem entirely reasonable and require little particular effort.

    At this remove I can’t remember if it was Richard or John in one of their forum posts, or else Simon Holt in his Q&A interview.

    Very much agree with the acclaim that David’s first season on the roster has been met with. The last I heard, albeit from a third party rather than an official source, there are no movements on or off the roster in 2012.

    gc

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

    #379220
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
    Participant
    • Total Posts 4609

    Agree David Fitzgerald is a good addition to the rota.

    He is a pleasant young lad, if not a little shy.

    I’ve not seen any pics of him online.

    He does seem to have adopted a trademark black or dark purple shirt.

    As far as I am aware there is nobody coming off the rota at the end of this year. Contrary to popular myth there is no automatic age at which commentators come off the rota. The composition of the rota is decided by a joint racecourse / Racetech committee.

    I thought I recognised him (from being on Racing UK a few times) round the paddock between races – hadn’t realised he is so young though.

    Yes he was indeed round the paddock between races at Huntingdon.

    Is the commentators’ rota published in advance, by the way? It’s the first thing I look for in the programme when I arrive for a meeting.

    It is not at present but it is something Rod Street was looking into. The trouble with advance publication is there are often swaps so issuing in advance could not be considered 100% accurate.

    Individual racecourses can provide a "preferred" and "unsuitable" list of commentators to Racetech. Which is why certain commentators tend to appear a regulars at certain tracks and why some commentators are never seen at others.

    #379221
    graysonscolumngraysonscolumn
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    • Total Posts 6939

    If anyone can beat that for being extremely sad, I will be amazed. At least I admit it!

    For commentator-based geekery, I think my running totals of commentators to have been engaged at the meetings I’ve attended this century must run you close.

    Iain Mackenzie (41, including 13 ptps), before you ask. 8)

    gc

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

    #379223
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
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    • Total Posts 4609

    For many years, Ascot never even gave a credit to the racecourse commentator.

    ….. and did you know the commentators at the Royal meeting have to be approved by The Queen?

    So Richard and Simon can claim they are by Royal Appointment.

    #379224
    graysonscolumngraysonscolumn
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    • Total Posts 6939

    I wondered who that was covering Sedgefield. I was impressed, he’s got a nice easy style but keeps us well informed on the whole field. I look forward to hearing David regularly.

    Sedgy was also the scene of his first ever NH call, at the course’s Sunday meeting back in January.

    He was everso slightly rushed in his delivery that day, as if perhaps he may have been expecting the plodders on show there to be going at an even halfway comparable pace to the all-weather fields he’d done previously. This minor issue had been sorted out completely by the time of his second and subsequent jumps bookings, however.

    Quick learner, good with delivery and content. I suspect he’ll be gracing the roster for many years yet. Hope so, anyway.

    gc

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

    #379226
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
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    • Total Posts 4609

    If anyone can beat that for being extremely sad, I will be amazed. At least I admit it!

    For commentator-based geekery, I think my running totals of commentators to have been engaged at the meetings I’ve attended this century must run you close.

    Iain Mackenzie (41, including 13 ptps), before you ask. 8)

    gc

    Sad to say my list goes back to the 1980’s and includes names such as Bruce Friend-James, Kel Mansfield and Jeremy Branfoot.

    The "top five" are Mark Johnson 6.72% of meetings attended, Barty (7.05%), Simon and The Cat (8.04%) and Richard Hoiles well clear with 14.65%

    #379228
    LudditeLuddite
    Participant
    • Total Posts 69

    Love your Catterick story CrustyPatch. Although there are a few callers I am not that keen on, I can only imagine walking out if arriving and being greeted with the name ‘Matt Chapman’ in the racecard!

    #379229
    graysonscolumngraysonscolumn
    Participant
    • Total Posts 6939

    Sad to say my list goes back to the 1980’s and includes names such as Bruce Friend-James, Kel Mansfield and Jeremy Branfoot.

    The "top five" are Mark Johnson 6.72% of meetings attended, Barty (7.05%), Simon and The Cat (8.04%) and Richard Hoiles well clear with 14.65%

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! 8)

    I’d love to have gone further back with my lists, but I never retained all that many of the racecards of my 1980s and 1990s racedays. One Simon Holt and two John Cotterells are all that survive from the former decade’s racegoing, for example.

    It says plenty about the heavy Pointing emphasis in my racegoing diet in recent times that the likes of Richard Hoiles have been on duty far less than people like James Crispe, Steve Payne and Lord Christopher Leigh.

    Nowt personal, Richard – you just need to spend more time in muddy, uncovered fields genuinely miles away from anywhere! :D

    Apropos of which, anyone for Cottenham this Sunday?

    gc

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

    #379232
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
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    • Total Posts 4609

    I’d love to have gone further back with my lists, but I never retained all that many of the racecards of my 1980s and 1990s racedays. One Simon Holt and two John Cotterells are all that survive from the former decade’s racegoing, for example

    Probably very sadly I have the racecard for every meeting I have ever attended bar two.

    One was a meeting at Huntingdon in the 90’s where they had a bigger crowd than expected and they ran out of racecards. The other was a York meeting where it absolutely tanked down all day and when I retrieved the card from my coat it was a soggy pulp

    I keep about four years worth in the office, the rest boxed up and in the loft.

    #379233
    paulostermeyerpaulostermeyer
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    • Total Posts 4609

    Although there are a few callers I am not that keen on, I can only imagine walking out if arriving and being greeted with the name ‘Matt Chapman’ in the racecard!

    I am not going to name names but there is one I will actively go out of my way to avoid, to the extent when I know they are calling I will try to make alternate plans if at all possible.

    #379235
    robnorthrobnorth
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    • Total Posts 4580

    Probably very sadly I have the racecard for every meeting I have ever attended bar two.

    Join the club. I’m missing cards from the first four meetings I visited, but I’ve kept every one since.

    I keep about four years worth in the office, the rest boxed up and in the loft.

    Ditto!

    Even sadder, since Musselburgh give out free racecards I take one working copy and one collection copy!

    Rob

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