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Horse Racing: Spontaneous approach key for McGrath; 4.20 VODAFONE DERBY.

Byline: Lee Mottershead

THE commentator charged with describing the Vodafone Derby for millions of BBC viewers yesterday said he has not rehearsed any fancy lines in the event of a Frankie Dettori victory, writes Lee Mottershead.

Jim McGrath will once again be the voice of the world's greatest Flat race, for which BBC1 this afternoon devotes a live broadcast of more than four hours, beginning at 12.55pm.

Not only will McGrath - like racecourse commentator Richard Hoiles and Five Live's John Hunt - have 18 horses to report on in the Derby, he will also have to correctly identify eight Ballydoyle representatives, four of whom run in variations of Michael Tabor's silks.

"It's an exceptionally hard task because of the number of Tabor, Smith and Magnier runners," said McGrath.

"Whenever you get a large number of horses carrying very similar colours it's an exercise in intense concentration to ensure you get it right.

"Last year we got used to one of the horses running in Magnier silks, only for the colours to be changed on the day."

Should Dettori triumph aboard Authorized, the contest's closing stages will become part of television history, but that has not persuaded McGrath to come up with clever lines in advance.

"One of the worst things a commentator can do is rehearse," he said. "You quite often hear rehearsed lines at the end of football matches and games of cricket, and they always sound rehearsed.

"You need to be spontaneous, like the batsman who doesn't know what shot to play until the ball is bowled. It has to be a reflex thing."

BBC1 will also show highlights of the Derby at 11.05pm.

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Jim McGrath: faces tough task calling Ballydoyle runners
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jun 2, 2007
Words:287
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