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SO the Wizard of Odds hasn't lost his magic touch for turning the basest metal into a solid golden goose.

Rupert Murdoch and his crew have all but killed off SIS coverage to the Racing Channel.

In its place they have installed the all-singing, all-dancing Attheraces a furlong in front. Funny name. I mean, stick Day in front of it and you have an ultra-silly Marx Brothers farce.

But it's no laughing matter. Murdoch's into money big time and obviously sees this new venture, starting on May 1, as another gilt-edged investment. Okay, there will be two dedicated spots on the Racing Channel but Attheraces gets 49 of Britain's 59 tracks while SIS gets mostly gaffs.

Plus, haud me back, evening racing from America and a daytime "feast" from Ireland, Europe and South Africa.

Current SIS subscribers will have to see out their contract for a vastly inferior product. The Rupemeister isn't daft. He has packed his ranks at the new channel with experience plus the obligatory pretty blonde or two, such as Lynda Ramsden's wee girl Emma, to front the whole shebang.

It's on from 7am to 9pm and will have features including an interactive slot for members of the public.

That should be a guaranteed hoot the morning after the Glasgow Fair Friday meeting at Hamilton Park when all the jollies have bitten the dust.

Wonder if they've thought of sub-titles for the Home Counties set?

For those who must pig out on such saturation coverage it will be part of the Sky Family package that costs pounds 16 per month.

Sounds great when you don't have to fork out any extra dough for 14 hours of racing a day.

But it's just one more carrot to lure subscribers on to the digital network.

Fancy betting that within 18 months Attheraces will be a stand-alone channel? Then watch prices creep up.

Sky want a worldwide sport stranglehold so they can set the agenda .And Murdoch won't have shed any tears over the impending death of ITV Digital and its dire effect on Nationwide League football clubs.

Do you think he worried when his offer for SPL sides was booted out?

More chance of Maggie Thatcher being the guest of honour at a wake for Longannet colliery.

How much longer before racing falls under the same kind of grip as football and you won't be able to see anything other than through Murdochvision?

THE only vision I want to see on Saturday is Samuel Wilderspin winning the Scottish Grand National at the two-day Ayr meeting.

The min-festival, sponsored by Gala Casinos and our sister paper the Daily Record, promises a feast of top-class racing.

If Sammy is in the line-up he must have a great chance of atoning for his first-fence Aintree fall.

At least trainer Richard Lee's sprightly veteran won't be suffering from fatigue. See you there!

GOT a query?

Write to Joe Punter, Sunday Mail, 1 Central Quay,GlasgowG3 8DA.

E-mail address:
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Title Annotation:Joe Punter
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Apr 14, 2002
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