BOTH the Investec Derby and John Smith’s Grand National are set to stay in their familiar time slots in 2013 despite Channel 4 assuming control of television coverage.
BBC television lost the rights to Channel 4, who have chosen a new production team from IMG Sports Media, with 88 days of live racing action set to be screened next year.
Channel 4’s programmers announced a handful of new features for their shows in 2013 including the intention to run Saturday’s major race at 3.50pm as often as possible.
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However, there are exceptions to the rule with the Derby being run at 4pm this year and the Grand National at 4.15pm.
Little change is expected on those timings in the near future but both Epsom and Channel 4 are open to discussion on the off-time.
‘‘I wasn’t at the briefing but it’s normally a longer show for the Derby and the Grand National and they were picked out as examples where that overall aim and strategy was not necessarily not going to apply,’’ said Andrew Cooper, Epsom clerk of the course and director of racing.
‘‘At the moment we are all working on the basis of a four o’clock Derby for next year.
‘‘That is the time we have settled on in recent years as the fifth race of seven.
‘‘There will be exceptions to this general thrust and principal that was outlined in the presentation on Wednesday.
‘‘We never have a closed mind to any of these things.
‘‘At the moment a four o’clock Derby in 2013 is where we are in the planning stage and that is when it is scheduled to take place at the moment.
‘‘There have been some discussions with the BBC in years gone by about the merits of a five o’clock Derby.
‘‘It is very early days in the whole Channel4/IMG/racecourse new world. There is a lot still to be discussed about lots of issues and where there might be exceptions to it.
‘‘There is a still a lot to be discussed between us all in a positive fashion. As far as the Derby is concerned, the discussions we have had thus far have meant we would be looking at a four o’clock Derby in 2013.
‘‘These things are never completely written in stone for further years.
‘‘When you have got an event with royal attendance, there are a lot of other factors you have to take into account. You have to look at the whole thing in the round in its entirety and come up with what is the best solution for all parties.
‘‘It is not just the simple ’what’s best for the broadcaster, what’s best for the racecourse or the sponsor’.
There are lots of other factors to take in on an event of that scale.
‘‘We’ve had a great relationship with our past broadcasters. They have done a great job over the years and now there are exciting times ahead with a new production company.’’ When contacted, Aintree clerk of the course Andrew Tulloch said he had not heard of or taken part in any discussions regarding a later start time for the Grand National.
Meanwhile, Channel 4 are planning on the same schedule as 2012 for their coverage of the showpiece events.
A spokeswoman said: ‘‘We are open-minded and will work with these key events going forward.
‘‘We are working and planning on the basis of last year, so I would not expect major changes in 2013.
‘‘It is something we are happy to discuss with racecourses.’’