See the full story in the York Press using the link below.
RaceTech was delighted to be invited to cover the outside broadcast of this year’s Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials (BPIHT) for the first time, by event organisers The Jockey Club.
The world class equestrian event took place from 15th – 18th September 2022, opening with a veterinary check “trot up” prior to the dressage phase all filmed on the Palace Lawn forming a sensational backdrop. The entire event which includes show jumping and the cross-country highlight, was live streamed to a global audience across the BPIHT own platform along with daily live coverage on the big screens situated at the event.
RaceTech used one of their brand-new mini–Outside Broadcast units designed as a compact, versatile, and more sustainable option working alongside a tender support vehicle. Fully equipped with audio mixers and monitoring, a graphics platform, record and replay functions and ability to create simultaneous transmission outputs, the new mini-OB unit proved ideal for this type of event.
The broadcasting consisted of long and short formats covered separately with bespoke graphics and replays throughout the competition. RaceTech was also able to provide dual streams on three of the five broadcast days covering show jumping and cross-country phases simultaneously.
Up to ten cameras were used, both traditional and remote including PTZ Hothead broadcast cameras. Along with RaceTech long lens race cameras with RF links mounted on RaceTech hoists set at strategic points around the cross-country route, RaceTech’s team was delighted to capture the excitement and skill across the spectacular course.
John Bance, Head of Engineering at RaceTech commented, “This was an exciting new challenge for our teams, we were very enthusiastic to be as creative as possible in capturing the skill and excitement of the competition in a stunning setting.We were very pleased to work with the Jockey Club in delivering this world class event”.
RaceTech is delighted to have been selected by The Jockey Club to provide outside broadcast (OB) coverage of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, a world class equestrian event which runs from 15th – 18th September 2022.
The Jockey Club successfully took over management of the international event in 2021 and have since recruited RaceTech to provide OB facilities to capture the top-class equestrian action for distribution around the site and live streamed by the event organisers.
The first two days of the event consist of dressage with the weekend hosting cross-country and show jumping. All three phases of the event will be covered by RaceTech over five days of broadcasting.
Long and short formats will be covered separately with bespoke graphics and replays throughout the competition. Up to 10 cameras will be used, both traditional and remote, with some set at strategic points during the cross-country phase to capture the excitement and skill. RaceTech will be using one of our brand-new mini OB units designed as a compact, versatile and more sustainable option.
In another exciting new development, all coverage of the 2022 Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials will be free to air via the official website – https://bpiht.co.uk/
Jack Pryor, The Jockey Club’s Event Director for Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials, commented: “We are delighted that the RaceTech has come on board to provide outside broadcast coverage of the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials in 2022.
“Obviously at The Jockey Club we work with RaceTech on a daily basis at our horseracing venues and are well aware of the high-quality services they provide.
“To bring RaceTech’s considerable skills and expertise to the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials is a huge positive and we look forward to working with all the RaceTech team later this month.
“We are also delighted to announce that all coverage will be free to air this year via the official Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials website. This should enable as many as possible of those unable to attend in person to keep up with all the action.”
John Bozza CEO RaceTech said, “We are very much looking forward to working with our long term partners The Jockey Club and be covering the Blenheim Palace International Horse Trials. It is hugely exciting for us to be working in a complimentary equestrian sphere and all at RaceTech are committed to making a tremendous success of this world class event.”
Brian Paul, RaceTech Outside Broadcast Director approaching 50 years of service, has been surrounded by well-wishing friends and colleagues congratulating him on winning Racing Welfare’s Lifetime in Racing Award for the northern area.
As one of the most popular members of the RaceTech team, Brian is due to celebrate his 50th year with the company in 2023 and has made plans to retire after half a century of dedicated service to racing.
He expressed his surprise at the award saying, “It was a total shock, I never expected anything like this to happen. Racing Welfare do so much to support racing’s workforce and it is an honour, not just for me, but my close colleagues at RaceTech who have been part of my journey. It has been a pleasure working with lovely people”.
Based in the northern part of the country Brian is well known across the racecourses where he has spent much time at the helm of Outside Broadcast Unit 1. Throughout his career Brian has trained and helped many new recruits and team members, his experience and skill spreads across engineering, camera operations, production and directing, not to mention his huge knowledge of racecourse infrastructure.
John Bozza CEO RaceTech said, “Racing Welfare do tremendous work supporting staff across the industry and we were delighted to nominate Brian for the Lifetime in Racing Award”.
“We were absolutely thrilled to hear he had been chosen as winner for the northern region. As an exceptional individual approaching 50 years’ service, Brian is a highly skilled, outstanding member of our team and he thoroughly deserves the recognition”.
Racecourse Technical Services Limited (“RaceTech”) continues with its long-held tradition of innovation producing live horse racing in the cloud.
Remote production has already proved a useful addition to the many broadcast services offered by RaceTech and now with the assistance of the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud service provider, Amazon Web Services (“AWS”) and Remote Production expert, SimplyLive, RaceTech has been able to go a step further with recent live broadcast trials proving successful.
The aim of the trials was to assess the feasibility, operating costs and benefits of using cloud hosted software as a service (“SaaS”) technology, to remotely produce UK horse racing events, compared to the traditional on course hardware-based approach which is highly capital-intensive. In particular, RaceTech were keen to assess the viability of remotely running multiple events from different courses at a central location to determine whether this approach could reduce the need for staff to travel to multiple sites and therefore the viability of using this method to manage occasional burst capacity requirements.
Working with Arena Racing Company (“ARC”) racecourses at Windsor on Monday, July 11, 2022 and Lingfield Park on Wednesday, July 13, 2022 all race camera pictures were streamed into AWS. RaceTech were then able to build the technical production capability using the SimplyLive Vibox Suite software and replicate our on-course hardware technology. This included the vision mixer, router, and record/replay systems, as software in the cloud. The race coverage from the two meetings was also produced in the cloud.
The trials worked in parallel with our existing broadcast operation with the actual broadcast feed coming as normal from the RaceTech OB Unit based at each racecourse. Using control surfaces at our South London hub in Raynes Park, the Director was able to cut the race and run the usual replays, camera ISO and race broadcast feeds from that location. We were then able to compare the remote output with the actual race footage from the Outside Broadcast Unit based at the course.
Whilst RaceTech’s South London hub was used for the trial, there is no reason why the races could not have been directed from any location with suitable control surfaces and a suitable connection to the AWS cloud. Furthermore, this approach could also facilitate running multiple concurrent events from a central hub, meaning fewer, smaller OB units thereby promoting a more sustainable business and a better work life balance for RaceTech’s staff. More trials will be planned soon to explore further how SaaS can be utilised effectively across British horse racing and to run more technical analysis such as latency measurements and to experiment with encoding technologies and bit rates.
John Bozza, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) at RaceTech, commented: “We are very pleased with on-going trials and wish to thank Arena Racing Company for allowing us to conduct the trials from their courses. We are also grateful to SimplyLive and AWS for their support in setting up the first trial of its kind for British Horse Racing.”
For further information please contact
Head of PR RaceTech
As partners of Ascot Racecourse, RaceTech is proud to cover the technical and outside broadcast provision at Royal Ascot 2022. The focus is on the five days of premiere action, which includes eight group 1 races and international competition, with attention on the drama and colour of the prestigious five-day Royal event.
RaceTech will have around 70 skilled teams and crew on course, covering each day. A multitude of cameras will cover all the action and festivities from the Royal procession to the bandstand sing along. The RaceTech starting stalls team will be on hand to offer a calm welcome to horses and jockeys at the start of each race. The photo finish technology including the reverse angle system, as is standard at every Ascot meeting, will capture each race finish in close detail. Longines Timing system will be in full operation.
Outspread RaceTech camera crews and extensive outside broadcast facilities will provide live enhanced coverage each day to a multitude of international and domestic media outlets – Sky Sports Racing, Ascot Racecourse TV, Ascot social media production, Ascot’s World feed, various individual bookmaker channels with full availability and support to ITV Racing.
A new addition to this year’s daily output, is a fashion and lifestyle show to be created using RaceTech technical and production facilities. The show will feature highlights from each day with celebrities and special events taking place around the course to be broadcast on all Ascot’s social media channels reaching a global audience.
RaceTech is also supporting the HBA Media TV distributed ‘Golden hour’ show, which is being produced by IMG, as well as fully supporting the ITV sport production by supplying numerous RaceTech cameras and feeds.
After many weeks preparation our teams are proud to work with Ascot and our broadcast partners to produce a first-class service at the Royal meeting.
RaceTech is proud to celebrate 75 years since the first Photo Finish equipment was formerly used in horse racing to decipher the result of The Grand Metropolitan Handicap race at Epsom in April 1947.
As providers of the Photo Finish for three quarters of a century, RaceTech, originally called – The Race Finish Recording Company, is proud of its heritage and the continuous development of modern Photo Finish systems which bear little relation to that original black and white print 75 years ago. The company went on to provide Photo Finish technology in the 1948 Olympic Games in London.
The Photo Finish system was used to determine the outcome of a Classic race for the first time in the 1949 Two Thousand Guineas at Newmarket followed by The Derby at Epsom in June that year. It wasn’t until 1983 that Photo Finish became available on all British racecourses.
The first colour Photo Finish image was produced in October 1989 for the Dewhurst race at Newmarket. Then in 1995 the Hawkeye black and white electronic Photo Finish system was brought into use for horseracing, this was upgraded to colour in 2000.
Since then, there has been rapid technological development with regular upgrades to equipment which has sped up the image process and enhanced visual quality. In 2019 RaceTech, with the BHA, adapted a new reverse angle camera on the finish line which was first used in March that year at the Cheltenham Festival and later at Royal Ascot. It enables the judge to have a view of horses crossing the line in conjunction with the mirror image and is especially beneficial on wider courses when horses finish close together on the grandstand side.
RaceTech continues to use new technology and develop systems to benefit horse racing into the future.
RaceTech is delighted to announce two new race Commentators; Alex Fussey and Steven Powell will join the RaceTech roster as official Commentators from 1st June 2022. After a rigorous selection process taking place over multiple rounds, a short list of high-quality candidates were put through their paces and asked to perform live commentaries on course, at selected fixtures. Whilst their commentary was not broadcast, it was judged by a selection committee made up of racecourse, broadcast, and bookmaker representatives.
Competition was fierce and the standard very high, making it difficult for selectors to whittle down the applicants after each stage of the process. Both the successful applicants have a long-held passion for horse racing, Steven Powell being well known as a raceday presenter at Newmarket and several other racecourses, cut his teeth commentating on Point-to-Points as well as bookmaker radio and betting shop commentaries.
Speaking from Paris, where he is currently providing English commentary for Equidia, he said, “I can’t wait to get started, it has been a lifelong ambition since my Grandad took me racing as a child at Stratford and Warwick. I’m a huge fan of racing and thrilled to have been successful in this latest selection process.”
It has also been a lifelong ambition for Alex Fussey who started his commentating career in swimming. As an avid competitor, he said “One day the commentator didn’t turn up and I just stepped in and found it came very naturally. I ended up covering contests at county, national and regional level. As a Newmarket resident horse racing was a natural progression, I started by covering Point-to-Points, pony racing and I’ve done plenty of studio and live radio commentaries.
James Gray, Chair of the Commentators User Group said, “Our congratulations go to Alex and Steven for being selected to join the Racecourse Commentators roster. RaceTech would like to thank all those who applied and were part of the selection process. The quality of applicants has been outstanding, highlighting the level of talent and enthusiasm that is out there. RaceTech is pleased to have managed the selection process and we look forward to welcoming Alex and Steven at British fixtures this summer, following some further familiarisation and training.”
For further information please contact:
Kate Hills Head of PR RaceTech
M: 07813 947201
RaceTech and Ascot Racecourse are pleased to announce a two-year extension to their existing long term relationship covering a full range of high grade technical and broadcast services at
the Berkshire course.
With immediate effect, the agreement will continue to see RaceTech provide integrity coverage, in-house programming and other essential racecourse services such as photo finish
across all 26 racedays in the calendar, including Royal Ascot in June.
The new contract also incorporates the showcasing of live tracking and timing graphics on Ascot TV to enhance the race-watching experience for racegoers.
One other significant addition to the existing agreement includes the supply of facilities to produce a bespoke Ascot World Feed which is distributed to various international broadcast companies most notably the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
The World Feed production will cover seven premier racedays each year – all five days of Royal Ascot, QIPCO King George Diamond Day, and QIPCO British Champions Day.
Alastair Warwick, Managing Director at Ascot Racecourse, said: “We are pleased to have signed a contract extension with RaceTech to secure a wide-range of technical and broadcast services for all of our racedays.
“The service that RaceTech provides is crucial not just for integrity functions that are essential for the sport to operate but also to enhance the on-course experience for our customers and help us broadcast the world-class action on the track around the world.”
John Bozza, RaceTech CEO, said: “We are extremely pleased to have secured this new longer term agreement with Ascot and honoured to be utilising our state of the art technical and broadcast facilities to service Ascot’s vast array of media partners across the globe.”
For some of us, watching TV is a process that, wherever possible, involves simply sitting on the sofa and ingesting whatever is flung our way by those in charge of programming. The experience was at its most relaxing back in the early 1970s when there were only three channels to choose from, colour was an optional extra and nobody ever lost the remote control because, like test tube babies and the SodaStream, they hadn’t been invented.
Imagine our bewilderment, then, when presented with multiple ‘zappers’, all of which look capable of sending William Shatner into space but seem determined never to work unless operated by somebody under the age of 12 with an advanced sense of disdain for their elders.
Well, I can tell you now, it’s going to get a lot worse, not least if you’re a racing fan. I know this because John Bozza (fourth generation British-Italian, in case you were wondering), CEO of RaceTech – the company in charge of broadcasting from all 59 British racecourses – told me so, although he presented it very much as a positive, capable of reaching out to a younger, wider audience.
“The challenge for us is to tailor the coverage to the individual,” he said, “so you can choose which screens you want to view, on your own device rather than on the big screen, and pick which camera angle you want to view.
“That’s the realm we’re moving into: more personalisation. You’ve seen a lot of it in other sports, people wanting to see just the footage from Lewis Hamilton’s helmet-cam or the back of his car, or the drone coverage, and that’s the way we’re going, although at the moment it’s very expensive to provide the extra cameras.
“As technology moves on, though, everything will become more possible and you’ll be able to select from ten different feeds to get the viewing experience you want, rather than relying on what’s broadcast to you.”
It’s a brave new world or an attack of the vapours, depending on your age and point of view, but there’s no doubting that RaceTech – founded 75 years ago as the Race Finish Recording Company, introducing the first photo-finish camera at Epsom in 1947 – is doing its bit to bring the British turf into the current century and beyond.
Of course, photo-finishes are now decided by digital cameras that take 2,000 lines per second and work to one pixel’s worth of accuracy, but it was little more than 20 years ago that they were still using film, developed in a tray of liquid and ferried on foot up to the judge’s box, which makes the speed of development in the past couple of decades all the more dizzying.
None of it stops punters grumbling about how long it takes to come up with the result – or human error making a pig’s ear of the process – but racing’s regulatory body these days has more information immediately at its fingertips than might have seemed possible barely a decade ago.
“We’ve changed the way we supply pictures to the stewards,” explains Bozza, a 50-year-old racing man and sometime greyhound owner from Essex. “It’s gone from stewards talking to an individual in a truck to access different camera feeds, to a remote-control system we call the Dreamcatcher, where the steward has control over which camera they want to look at or pause or replay.
“That’s been rolled out across all our trucks, and now the content is ingested into the BHA archives in a matter of minutes, available to be viewed instantly, where it was once a manual process, recording on to a disc, which was then sent to our office in Raynes Park [south-west London], taken out of the envelope and downloaded, which used to take days.”
These are all neat tricks with which to impress the uninitiated, but outside, on a secluded patch of tarmac behind a fence a stone’s throw from Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, sits the nuts and bolts of the operation.
RaceTech, as you may not know, is in charge of starting stalls, handlers, public address, racecourse TV and even much of a tracks’ social media content – “so we’re truly embedded in racing and passionate about it, thanks to 75 years of heritage,” as Bozza puts it – but the part most of us care most about is what he calls “delivery”, turning up on 362 days in 2021 to bring racing into our homes, whether the sun’s shining at Goodwood or the snow is falling at Sedgefield. And ‘OB10’ is at the heart of that delivery.
OB10 – the company’s tenth outside broadcast truck, which arrived at the track yesterday afternoon to be readied for action – is really quite something. It’s roughly £3 million worth of third-generation tech-laden transport, from which will be controlled, co-ordinated and distributed the pictures of this afternoon’s sport.
From the outside, it looks much like a very smart articulated lorry, but inside it’s plainly part of the new generation of televisual wizardry, stepping up from the existing fleet of OB units which were added to of necessity when RaceTech took over broadcasting at all the Arena tracks.
There are banks and banks of screens, as you might expect, tweaked and twiddled by all manner of knobs, buttons, sliders and switches, all lit up to the point where it’s hard to know whether we’re about to produce a best-selling album, land a jet airliner or just broadcast the Discover Newmarket Fillies’ Restricted Novice Stakes (Div I) into the homes of a racing nation.
At the controls is Chris Clark, a 21-year veteran of the company, now director of technology and innovation, who has witnessed a minor revolution in his time.
“I came from an electronics background and started at RaceTech as a workshop engineer, supporting the crew,” he explains. “Having been an engineer delivering these facilities, now I’m looking at innovation and future technology, but it’s important to be at the racecourse when you can, to keep your hand in, keep a feel of what’s happening on the ground, because things change so quickly.”
Bozza has been with the company a mere four and a half years, but he’s overseen perhaps the headiest period of innovation and transformation of all.
“It’s been a period of tremendous growth,” he says. “We now provide coverage at over 1,500 fixtures, from 800 four years ago; we have seven bases across the UK and our trucks are located the length and breadth of the country; we have over 150 permanent staff, nearly 400 with freelance support during the busy months; and the scale of the operation has grown enormously, with 105 vehicles and 30-plus banks of starting gates. It’s a big machine now.”
It’s a big machine, that’s for sure, and one whose inner workings are made all the more complex by the fact that RaceTech has many masters to serve. Ultimately it’s owned by ‘racing’, in the shape of the Racecourse Association, but from that central RCA hub spring multiple ‘rights-holders’, agglomerations of letters like RMG, SSR, HKJC – and now, of course, ITV’s own picture coverage to supplement – all with their own highly individual demands.
“We’re not selling the rights ourselves, but we have to be aware of everybody’s needs,” expands Bozza. “They may want their own presenter on course, or different cameras and graphics to enhance their own coverage, perhaps more coverage from the parade ring or the start, which as a sole provider for the entire fixture list, we have to be in tune with.
“There are more people to keep happy, but it’s not hard, it just requires more planning and foresight.”
Into this complex equation, 18 months ago, came the kind of pandemic everybody could have done without, which tested RaceTech’s powers of organisation and innovation like nothing else in its 75-year history. Furloughing became remote working became a tightrope of new working practices and ever-shifting sands of government regulation. It was a morass of health, safety, moral obligation and ‘the show must go on’ spirit, but it turns out that some good did come of it.
“It was the biggest challenge I’ve known in my career,” says Bozza, a lifelong worker in the TV industry, “but we were very fortunate that everyone in racing pulled together to get things back as quickly as they did, which was truly inspiring – especially for a sport that often gets a bad press for being divided.
“We had to be very strict in terms of the protocols we put in place ourselves, and the scheduling team, although they were working remotely, had to be so on the ball, but it worked very well and the remote working concept is one that sped up because of Covid and has remained in place.
“We’re now looking at a hybrid way of working, and equally we’ve had to challenge every role on the racecourse, to the extent that I think the idea of remote production is here to stay.
“The hub at Raynes Park can remotely control various bits of kit that are in the truck and we’ll continue to test that, to see if it’s a smarter way of working, so if somebody is ill you have the ability to do something remotely from a disaster recovery perspective, which is a way of thinking Covid drove us into.
“There’s also the angle of efficiency and sustainability: you’re working smarter, not driving as many people around, so technology is enabling us to meet social and environmental demands, work greener and cut rising fuel costs, and it could change the way we operate for good.”
Necessity has clearly been the mother of invention, which is a state of mind that has driven RaceTech since the early days of photo-finishes and starting stalls. There is a focus on callow youth, as much as on diehard racing veterans, to help drive the technology in ways that may engage a new audience. But there is no place for follies or vanity projects when it’s cash-strapped racing that’s footing the bill.
“We have people who have been with us for 30 years,” explains Bozza, “and that intimate knowledge, that relationship with people at the racecourses, is ingrained in us, but this year alone we’ve taken on 14 trainees, from different universities, media courses, technology courses, who bring new ideas and new ways of thinking; people who are hugely passionate about technology but don’t know a thing about racing. So we have both ends of the spectrum, a real sense of diversity and inclusion, of attracting people that maybe racing hasn’t attracted before, with a view to attracting a new audience as well.
“But with all technological advances, we have to analyse whether there’s a cost benefit, an environmental benefit, a production benefit. For example, we developed the ‘across-the-line’ camera in house. It was super slo-mo pictures that were being used in crash test analysis, we took it and adapted it to be used at a racecourse and it’s now in use at all fixtures.
“Equally our rights-holders may come to us and say we’d like improved coverage at the start, or in the parade ring, or drone coverage, the tracker camera, and we’ll continue to challenge ourselves, with maybe fixed cameras on the stalls, perhaps a greater interaction with participants, with the jockeys themselves, testing ideas from other sports to improve the experience for the racegoer and the viewer, but always we ask ourselves: does it have enough long-term benefit that we can bring it to market?
“Because there’s no point innovating for innovation’s sake. It has to have a value. Will it keep people on the racecourse, bring more people to the racecourse, more viewers to the screen, more betting turnover, is it saving money? If the answer to all this is no, but it’s nice, we have to be looking elsewhere.”
It’s a rare insight into a new world of innovation that certainly hasn’t left the turf behind. RaceTech is making sure of that, as Bozza concludes: “New ideas are always exciting and racing certainly isn’t ‘too old’ to be part of this. Its audience is changing and part of the challenge is to broaden its appeal. It was great to be part of the Sunday Series and the Racing League, and I think new ideas can help change the demographic and keep racing moving forwards.”