ITV Racing line-up announced
A host of names have been added to ITV’s racing line-up as the channel moves towards the start of its coverage next year.
A range of key presenting, reporting, commentating and on-screen expert roles have been filled as ITV gears up to broadcasting its first race on New Year’s Day.
Oli Bell will present ITV’s weekly racing morning magazine show and Richard Hoiles will be the lead commentator, joined in the commentary box by Mark Johnson. Experts on the team include Hayley Turner, Mick Fitzgerald, Jason Weaver, Luke Harvey and Brian Gleeson. Brough Scott will also appear as a regular guest offering his insight 30 years on from when he presented ITV’s Racing coverage.
Frankie Dettori will be a regular contributor to the programmes working around his riding commitments and Victoria Pendleton will bring her perspective to the channel’s coverage.
Alice Plunkett, Rishi Persad and Sally-Ann Grassick all have reporting roles. Lucy Verasamy will provide reports on one of the key elements of any racing meeting – the weather.
Richard Hoiles said: “It is a fantastic opportunity to be part of the ITV team and have the privilege of calling the superb array of big races we will be covering next year. Racing is a unique sport that offers beauty and drama in abundance and hopefully we can really bring that to life for the viewers whether they be ardent fans or new to the sport.”
Oli Bell said: “I am hugely excited about this opportunity and am really looking forward to fronting the Saturday morning magazine show. I am hugely passionate about the sport and will look forward to the afternoon's action every bit as much as the viewers at home and I hope to share that enthusiasm with them. I can’t wait to kick on now and work closely with the excellent team that ITV have assembled both on screen and behind the camera."
Hayley Turner said: “We hope to give viewers an enjoyable ride, giving them a close insight into the world of racing with plenty of laughs along the way. For me, this opportunity is a new chapter, having recently retired from race riding, so I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the role with this talented new team.”
Mick Fitzgerald said: “I’ve spent most of my life in racing, so I’m relishing the prospect of being part of ITV’s coverage from next year and sharing with viewers the unrivalled excitement and entertainment this sport offers.”
These new appointments follow the announcements earlier this year of Ed Chamberlin as ITV’s main racing presenter and his co-presenter for the Flat season, Francesca Cumani, as well as Matt Chapman as betting presenter and reporter.
Niall Sloane, ITV Director of Sport, said: “We believe this line-up, which draws on a range of people from within racing and beyond, will enrich our coverage with the quality, expertise, insight and personality to bring home to viewers the full enjoyment and appreciation of this wonderful sport.”
Ed Chamberlin added: "I'm delighted with the team ITV have put together and really look forward to working with them. That line-up, coupled with ITV's expertise at making sports programmes, is a really exciting prospect. I can't wait to get started at Cheltenham on January 1st."
ITV’s exclusive new four year deal to show UK horseracing on terrestrial television takes effect from the start of 2017, when its free to air coverage will begin.
ITV’s racing coverage will encompass live broadcasts of almost 100 days of racing each year.
Last month, ITV revealed details of its plans to show 41 racing days on the main channel.
Coverage will begin on the main channel, with the New Year’s Day meeting at Cheltenham. And the 41 days will encompass the Grand National, The Epsom Derby, all the major festivals including Cheltenham and Royal Ascot, the Five Classics, plus other highlights of the racing calendar such as Future Champions Day at Newmarket and Champions Day at Ascot.
In addition, ITV4's racing coverage will see a re-introduction of free-to-air broadcasts of the Craven Meeting at Newmarket in April. ITV will show two days including the Nell Gwyn and Craven Stakes, key trials for the 1000 and 2000 Guineas. Both days of Newbury’s winter festival featuring the Hennessy Gold Cup will also be broadcast.
The deal further enhances ITV’s portfolio of world-class sports rights, which includes the Tour de France, the French Open and exclusive live coverage of the England football team’s qualification campaign for the World Cup 2018 qualifiers. Following the success of ITV’s exclusive Rugby World Cup coverage last year, 2016 saw ITV broadcast 6 Nations Rugby for the first time, and the channel showed live coverage of Euro 2016.