One highlight of the cold winter months for any National Hunt fan is spending Saturday afternoon on the sofa watching Channel 4 Racing. But what does it take to produce live action from the races every weekend, H&H were fortunate enough to go behind the scenes at Ascot to find out...


Preparing to go live on air

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
All the filming takes place in the studio truck, which has a pop-out side to allow for extra space. Final preparations for The Morning Line going on air at 8am are underway. Each presenter is given an earpiece — through which the director Denise Large and producer Sophie Veats can prompt while the show is live. Rishi Persad is hosting the show and sits alongside Mick Fitzgerald and studio guests trainer Dan Skelton and jockey Tom Scudamore.


The nucleus of Channel 4 Racing

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
Just a few cables here — all of the technical goings-on happen in the scanner, a separate truck located the otherside of the racecourse from the studio truck.


21 different screens

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
Both Denise and Sophie, along with the gallery PA, Lynne, are also sat in the scanner truck — in front of an astounding 21 screens. Throughout the show Denise will prompt the team with which camera shots need to be used.


Breakfast time

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
Once The Morning Line has gone off air, it is time for some re-fuelling and courtesy of Ascot racecourse, a full English breakfast is on the menu.


The production meeting

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing

The afternoon’s producer, Jim Ramsey, arrives along with Rishi’s co-host Gina Harding for the production meeting at 10am. Amid plenty of laughter and joking around, the team work their way through the afternoon show’s script, making sure everyone is — literally — on the same page.


Video making

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
All morning the creative team, also located in the scanner truck, work on the video montages, which often open the afternoon show. Footage is collected from around the course all morning, including the trainers, jockeys and racegoers arriving. The team sift through the footage and decide what they want to use in the final video.


Preparations for going on air again

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
The team are back on the sofa by 1.30pm for the countdown to the afternoon’s action. Their make-up is touched up by make-up artist Charlotte. The presenters have a final look through the script, while Rishi also writes his opening scripts — the presenters never use autocue on the show.


The tracker vehicle

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
Biff and Nick are in charge of the black Land Rover, which travels at 40mph around the inside of the track filming the runners in action. It is driven skillfully by Nick — who also engineered the design of the specially-adapted car. Attached to the top of the car is an imprssive globe-shaped camera which cost £250,000…

...While in the back

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
Biff takes control of the camera in the back of the car while Nick drives at speed — he makes sure the relevant runners are always in the correct shot.


Interviewing outside with Gina

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
While Rishi and Mick are presenting from the studio, Gina has the more hectic job of being out-and-about interviewing jockeys and the horses’ connections…


…and talking to the winner

Behind the scenes at Channel 4 racing
During the race Gina watches each horse to see how they are running and writes notes down — she will also come up with a number of questions to ask the victorious jockey.

Don’t miss the full feature about how Channel 4 Racing works in this week’s issue of Horse & Hound magazine (12 November 2015)