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U.K.: Grand National strides into HD

If the British racing world is still a bit saddened by the death this year of racing novelist and former jockey Dick Francis, last Saturday's (April 10) Aintree Grand National in Great Britain provided some respite by galloping into broadcast history in becoming the first horse race covered live in HD by the BBC.

The Grand National, much like America's Super Bowl, is much more than a relatively brief sports event. The first couple of days of the meetings and festivities leading up to the big race also were covered in HD by the BBC — leading into the race itself on day three. The four-and-a-half mile test of endurance has been a British sporting institution since 1839.

According to the BBC two new high-speed cameras were installed at a couple of key points along the racecourse (The Chair and Becher's Brook) for high-speed replays as the horse-and-jockey made their way over what are considered the two most challenging fences in the contest.

Also, a vortex camera was put in play — operating from ground level up to 100 ft. with a 360-degree rotation, showing what the BBC said was "the full spectacle of the field as they go past the Aintree grandstands."