In case you hadn’t noticed, there has been a change in UK horse racing coverage, with live racing moving from it’s home of the last few years, Channel 4, to it’s new home on ITV, starting on January 1st, 2017.
The main reason why you might notice the change, is because after it’s opening on New Year’s Day, horse racing will now not be seen on ITV’s flagship station, ITV1, until Tuesday 14th March, the start of the Cheltenham Festival, to be precise, including coverage of the 4 Cheltenham Championship races.
Until Cheltenham, coverage will continue on ITV4, with the first week’s action starting at 1.30pm, on Saturday 7th January, with races from Sandown and Wincanton, which is basically the same coverage previously provided by Channel 4.
Before horse racing enthusiasts jump up and down in disgust at the bread and butter coverage seemingly being dumped on the backwaters of ITV4, it’s worth remembering that ITV regularly host coverage of PDC Darts tournaments and some decent snooker tournaments on that channel.
They also cover the Tour de France, and French Open on Channel 4. They only really save England internationals for coverage on the main ITV channel, and some might justifiably argue that those matches could be dumped on any backwater channel, or even the Horror Channel.
ITV have invested heavily in their presenting team, poaching Ed Chamberlain from Sky Sports, with analysis duties being performed by Sir Anthony (AP) McCoy, Hayley Turner, Mick Fitzgerald, Luke Harvey, Brian Gleeson, Frankie Dettori, along with occasional appearances from legendary horse racing presenter, Brough Scott.
Replacing Channel 4’s morning line programme, will be replaced by a magazine show known as ITV Racing: The Opening Show, shown on ITV4 at 10am, on Saturday mornings. The programme will be presented by Oli Bell, nephew of top trainer Michael Bell.