Ruby Walsh: Why are we so far off the pace when it comes to bringing viewers close to the action? – Irish examiner | Episode Movies

The Open Meeting at Cheltenham got underway yesterday afternoon in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd with a six-race card that barely set the world on fire. Sometimes the occasion is just as important as the entertainment, and from where it all unfolded, the noise indicated people were having fun.

This afternoon is a far better map and in the featured Paddy Power Gold Cup, Mouse Morris hoists the Irish flag with French dynamite. He is the favorite and could win the grand prize in a race far more Irish horses have lost than ever won.

Big names and big clashes are the stories of the weekend. Banbridge and Sole Pretender are the Irish runners in Cheltenham’s most fascinating event, the Grade Two Arkle Challenge Trophy Novice Chase, where Monmiral, Tommy’s Oscar, Pentland Hills and Glory And Fortune make up a solid but select field. Paul Nicholls’ court couldn’t be in better shape, so the vote goes to Monmiral.

Gentleman De Mee vs Coeur Sublime, Fil Dor vs Brazil and Grand Jury vs Three Stripe Life are the interesting encounters at Naas.

Tomorrow Navan Flooring Porter and Bob Olinger will face off in the Lismullen Hurdle. It’s the stayer hurdle champion against the prodigy whose chasing career hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, and Henry de Bromhead has changed course with him.

At Fortria Chase, the injury-prone Ferny Hollow will look to gain valuable experience in open company before tackling tougher tasks. At Cheltenham, in the Shloer Chase, Arkle winner Edwardstone will look to fend off Nube Negra as he attempts to become Britain’s leading champion chase hopeful.

Most of these clashes are broadcast live on various terrestrial television platforms but after watching the Breeders’ Cup last weekend I felt we were way behind when it came to bringing viewers close to the action.

NBC seemed miles ahead of European television coverage with the footage they had access to. It helped that Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore were having a good weekend for the patriotic part of me and that William Buick and Charlie Appleby were hooked, but it was the camera angles and the way NBC conveyed each race to me brought, the ones that captivated me the most.

I was convinced on Friday night that they were using wire cameras running parallel to the horses to take their shots down the backstretch as they engulfed the entire field from an angle to watch the race.

Any movement for a position, a signal of distress or confidence, was so obvious that I almost didn’t realize it was abnormal. The camera then panned in front of the runners as they exited the back leg, showing them lapping home form outside the runners before seamlessly transitioning to the home run camera.

It created a commotion and kept me glued to the TV before NBC moved on to repeating overhead drone footage showing how much magic some jockeys worked and how brave other horses were.

On Saturday morning I made my way to the OB vans at Down Royal to see how much these wired cameras or the infrastructure to put them up would cost. With a new media rights deal coming up, now would be a good time for racecourses to make their main product – racing itself – as attractive as possible.

It’s not required because I was watching a drone cam all night! Unfortunately, on Saturday night it did not fly, but moved at an altitude just above the horses, but in them instead of above them, due to strong winds.

Having watched Australia and the US and been to Paris when a drone flew and captured the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris from every angle, I want to hear the solid and logical debate as to why Irish racing is falling far behind. Some sectors or voices within Irish racing have an issue with the use of drones, but who or why? I don’t know yet, but I’ll try to find out.

IRIS provide all the imagery for Irish races and they have drones kept in airspace other than what is required because of this illogical argument which is the same in the UK. In addition, the aviation authorities are currently blocking their use for security reasons in certain areas.

I accept that a drone shouldn’t be able to fall on anyone but please if you’ve ever been to a racetrack know that 95% of the area is uninhabited and could easily be a controlled airfield.

The vast majority of our racetracks are wide enough to have drone paths 12ft high and you could even log the coordinates so it stays exactly on that route at all times with only its speed being controlled by an operator.

Distant dots or close-ups of the car in front should be a thing of the past if racecourses and HRI so desire. The tools are in place on most Irish racecourse channels to bring horse racing to life on TV screens and it is time to be proactive and learn about what other sports are offering.

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