Channel 4 geared up for Cheltenham

The Channel 4 crew are moving into Cheltenham in a big way. The team of 85, which includes 38 different cameras, is more than twice the number employed to bring a normal Channel 4 Racing programme to the screens. It's pretty much on a par with a Sky Sports broadcasting team for a Premier league game of football.

There are fixed cameras, beaming pictures from the same spot throughout the four days. They'll be using 11 radio linked portable cameras for close-ups in the parade ring and the stabling areas, as well as following the commentators down the track as they try to grab a few words with the winning jockeys. This year's innovation is gyroscopic equipment, with two truck mounted cameras operating on gimbals to maintain a steady picture whatever terrain the trucks tackle.

There's over five hours of coverage every day, with a breakfast time Morning Line programme, nearly 4 hours of live coverage each afternoon, and then highlights programme later night. It means people on site from 0630 in the morning till midnight.

The front of camera crew have already been on their travels recording a series of interviews with racing personalities to be shown over the four days of the Festival. Alice Plunkett had a day with Paul Nicholls where she was riding work alongside Kauto Star and Big Buck’s. Simon Holt and Nicholls spent time chewing the fat and putting down a history of Kauto Star. John Francome gets the lowdown from Nicky Henderson, and Alistair Down has been over to Ireland to speak to Ryanair boss Michael O’Leary about his Gigginstown team, successful in three of last year's races.

The interview I'm most looking forward to is the one in which Henrietta Knight and Terry Biddlecome reflect on the career of Best Mate, although the recollections of Trevor Hemmings about a horse called Klondike, which pulled him and greengrocer's cart around Lancashire in his younger days must be worth looking out for.

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