Sunny weather blamed for low Grand National viewing figures
ITV showed the race for the first time, but only 8m people tuned in on a day of glorious sunshine
One For Arthur became only the second Scottish winner of the Grand National on Saturday when he beat Cause Of Causes and Saint Are in the biggest race of the year at a sun-drenched Aintree.
But the good weather was blamed for disappointing television viewing figures. Only 8.2 million people watched the race, which was broadcast on ITV for the first time. Last year, however, ten million tuned in to watch it on Channel 4 and ITV had been hoping to improve on those figures.
"The Grand National is racing's biggest annual draw – one of the biggest, in fact, in any sport – and John Baker, Aintree's managing director, said last year a peak audience of 12 million 'would be at the lower end of expectations' for 2017," reports The Guardian.
"As a result the bare figures for ITV's coverage appear deeply disappointing. However, the headline number should also be seen in the context of a huge drop in the total television audience on Saturday afternoon, when the warm temperatures and cloudless skies at Aintree reflected the weather nationwide."
So while fewer people were watching TV at 5.15pm on Saturday most of those that were, were watching the race.
"ITV's audience for Saturday's Grand National fell short of some expectations, but its 62 per cent peak share of the total TV viewers equalled the modern record for a commercial station," says the Racing Post. The last time ITV had such a large share of the audience was during Euro 2016 when England were beaten by Iceland.
The figures represent "a disappointing footnote to the weekend", says the Guardian, which notes that there were plenty of positives to take from the race.
"The National itself had a popular, well-backed winner and there were no injuries to any of the 40 runners and riders in the big race for the fifth year in a row."
Bookies in Scotland were not celebrating after the race, however, as they prepared to pay out on One for Arthur, a 14-1 shot.
William Hill said it did not expect to make a profit on the race and Paul Petrie of McBookie.com told the BBC: "It was a bad day for Scottish bookmakers but a great day for punters and more importantly for Scottish racing."