rac­ing mat­ters

Keith Knight gives his con­tro­ver­sial view on TV race read­ers

Racing Ahead - - CONTENTS -

Keith Knight with his per­sonal view on TV com­men­ta­tors

It is an odd as­pect of Mankind that cer­tain peo­ple and events can of­ten, af­ter an un­ver­i­fied length of time, be­come im­bued with a mys­tique that man­i­fests into the stuff of leg­end. It is al­ways been so.

The cult of Je­sus Christ, in my opin­ion, is the largest and most well-known meta­mor­pho­sis of a man who, through con­ve­nience and em­bel­lish­ment of the truth, al­ters in leg­end from mere mor­tal who lived and preached a peace­ful life to be­come through­out his­tory a su­per­hu­man son of a god with no name.

I may have of­fended a good few peo­ple there and will doubt­less of­fend a few more once I get to my point. King Al­fred is an­other char­ac­ter of his­tory who is prac­ti­cally un­known to all but those with ei­ther a de­gree in his­tory or who are ded­i­cated view­ers of Hor­ri­ble His­to­ries.

If you read an ac­count of his life it is clear he was a good and brave ruler. He is known as the fa­ther of the English navy, he pro­moted ed­u­ca­tion, he trans­lated Latin into An­glo-Saxon, he made treaties and re­pelled in­va­sions. Yet all he is re­mem­bered for is burn­ing cakes, of which there is not a shred of proof.

I dare say, if we knew the truth of it, much of what we know about his­tor­i­cal fig­ures is only hearsay that has trav­elled down the ages through ac­counts recorded decades or cen­turies af­ter ev­ery­one in­volved in those events were dead or sim­ply recorded by word-of­mouth through the rep­e­ti­tion of nurs­ery rhymes.

Al­though there is no de­bate who the Voice of Rac­ing was, and per­haps re­mains, I do not be­lieve that Sir Peter O’Sull­e­van, as great and as good a man as he was, is the great­est com­men­ta­tor to grace our liv­ing-rooms.

Now I know in be­liev­ing what many will con­sider heresy I of­fend per­haps the ma­jor­ity of rac­ing en­thu­si­asts but if you are as ad­dicted to YouTube videos of races of the BBC era as I am there can be no ar­gu­ment that Sir Peter was not the fault­less com­men­ta­tor as leg­end will have us be­lieve. He was hes­i­tant at times. Called the wrong horse at times. Called a horse fin­ish­ing fast when in fact it was eas­ily held by the even­tual win­ner. He was, with­out doubt, the doyen of com­men­ta­tors but he is not the best, not by a long chalk.

The liv­ing rarely re­ceive the credit de­serv­ing to them. A good man has to die be­fore his peers hon­our him with the praise he should have re­ceived when able to ap­pre­ci­ate what is his due. To this end I want to lav­ish praise on An­drew Hoiles, Si­mon Holt, and oth­ers too numer­ous to men­tion.

They are, to a man, quite bril­liant. All men, you will doubt­less be aware, with not a dul­cet fe­male voice to be heard, which in this age of sex­ual equal­ity is an anom­aly that is al­most a breach of the Hu­man Rights Act. Even the most sex­ist of sports, foot­ball, has em­braced the fe­male both in front of the cam­era and be­hind the mic.

Live and with­out re­hearsal, when the un­ex­pected can hap­pen at any stage in a race, our present-day com­men­ta­tors make the com­plex ap­pear child’s play. No com­men­ta­tor of any other sport is as fluid in their de­scrip­tion of what is de­vel­op­ing se­cond-by-se­cond in front of them bet­ter and with a higher de­gree of flu­ency than the rac­ing com­men­ta­tor. What An­drew Hoiles achieves when com­men­tat­ing on big-field hand­i­caps is a tour-de-force un­matched in hu­man sport­ing his­tory.

And as An­drew Hoiles is a bet­ter com­men­ta­tor than Sir Peter, Chan­nel 4 and ITV, es­pe­cially ITV, present rac­ing with a qual­ity and in­sight far be­yond what the BBC ever achieved. Yes, the tech­nol­ogy avail­able to­day for ITV to play with was un­heard of dur­ing the hal­cyon days of Sir Peter, Ju­lian Wil­son and Jimmy Lind­ley, but the over­all pre­sen­ta­tion we re­ceive is slicker, more in­for­ma­tive and de­liv­ered with greater pro­fes­sion­al­ism.

I will not con­test that Sir Peter was a man of far greater depth than any of those who fol­low in his foot­steps; his love of rac­ing stem­ming from a love of horses of all kinds, as his char­ity work makes clear. His true legacy will not be his commentaries but the char­i­ta­ble dona­tions to equine char­i­ties that his friends are de­ter­mined to con­tinue in his name.

Sir Peter O’Sull­e­van is, I be­lieve, one of the great­est men to come to promi­nence through horse rac­ing and if it were not for him per­haps Hoiles, Holt and oth­ers would not have been in­spired to fol­low in his foot­steps?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Ireland

© PressReader. All rights reserved.