Jim McGrath: I will bid emotional farewell to BBC at the 2012 Grand National

BBC  England eng Racing from Aintree

BBC Horse racing commentator, Jim McGrath, will call his last Grand National for the BBC later today.

Jim, born in Victoria, Australia in the early 50s joined the BBC ahead of the 1993 racing season.

Writing in The Telegraph, Jim said: “My final ‘Beeb’ commentary on the Grand National on Saturday will spark inevitable nostalgia. Probably the most emotional moment will be peering for the final time through the ancient binoculars that have been provided by the BBC since I was first employed by them 20 years ago.

“Those binoculars, reportedly picked up from a German submarine, and several like them (I know of three pairs in existence), have seen plenty of racing action in this country and abroad. Sir Peter used them for his first television commentary when Merryman II won the National in 1960, and I will be using them for what will be, in all probability, the last.

“Every time I have looked through those high-powered ‘bins’ I have been reminded of the great tradition and standards maintained by BBC Sport over the years, and also of some of the great commentators and presenters who have worked on the Grand National coverage.

“If anything, I will take a little longer to savour the moments after they cross the line in Saturday’s big race. I want a snapshot to treasure in the years ahead.”

From 2013, Channel four will take over the BBC’s broadcasting rights to the Grand National, Royal Ascot and the Derby as the corporation continues to reduce its sports budget by 15%.

Jim succeeded Sir Peter O’Sullevan as the BBC’s senior race commentator in December 1997. Since then he has commentated on all the BBC’s major meetings including the Epsom Derby and the Epsom Oaks, Royal Ascot, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, the Irish Derby, the Hennessy Gold Cup, Glorious Goodwood, the Welsh National, and perhaps the world’s most famous steeplechase, the Grand National.

McGrath has called home the winner of every Grand National from 1998 to 2011, and will do so once again later today.

Posted by Johnnie Larkin on Saturday 14 April 2012
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