Poor old Mick, friendless in this world of social media critics. Since the announcement of his inclusion in the ITV team, I’ve read nothing but brickbats. I hope Mick kept a hold of his body protector when he retired from riding.
As a broadcaster, I think he’s improved two stones since he started. He’s almost always relaxed, comfortable and confident when they cut to him (he has the odd blip as they all do, even Clare). He’s lost that early rabbit in the headlights look and concentrates much more on his interviewee and encourages responses.
Although talkative by nature, he seems to me more thoughtful these days about what he says – which is where he seems to come in for most flak. But what do people want from him? He can’t be insightful and incisive about every horse; he talks about dozens of them every day. They each have a head and a tail and a jockey and form which is usually not dissimilar to everything else in the race. He’s not dissecting the plans for the Hadron Collider.
To those who think it’s easy, try this: go and get an empty bottle and set it bottom towards you on a shelf eyeline-high. Now talk to it about racing for a minute without hesitation, deviation or repetition. You will not get through ten seconds before you’re a blubbering wreck.
On a separate note, Nick Luck will be a huge loss, I think. His only failing seems to be in the eyes of class warriors for his appearance, accent and lucidity. He’ll be sorely missed.
Anyway, it’s all heading south. ITV’s four years will, I believe, be the swansong for racing as a terrestrially broadcast sport. It’ll end up having been on TV for about as long as I’ve been around, and maybe, like an old salmon coming home to die, ITV will prove a welcoming and appropriate final resting place.
We should all stop complaining and savour the coming end of an era.