Ed Chamberlin and Francesca Cumani present exclusive free to air coverage of the Grand National Festival live from Aintree.
ITV Racing’s coverage will go live to the racecourse in Liverpool to cover the opening day and Ladies’ Day in the lead-up to the most famous event in racing, the 2018 Randox Health Grand National on Saturday [April 14].
ITV Racing’s coverage features more than ten hours’ live footage across the three days, taking in the major feature races every day, going behind the scenes at the course, featuring interviews with key figures including everyone from stable staff, trainers and owners through to the jockeys as well as racing legends, sampling the atmosphere in the grandstands, with pundits bringing an expert insight into the incredible challenge the course presents.
Joining Ed and Francesca for expert analysis are Sir AP McCoy, Luke Harvey and Mick Fitzgerald, with reporting from Oli Bell, Alice Plunkett and Matt Chapman, with Brian Gleeson providing an Irish angle on the action.
It’s the first time Francesca has presented for ITV live from Aintree, and with an expanded role, she will appear on the channel’s live coverage of all the major racing festivals this year.
Additionally, Lucy Verasamy will provide weather forecasts, expert Eva O’Donoghue will give her views from a veterinary perspective, Mark Heyes and Charlotte Hawkins join the team on Friday to cast their eye over the fashions on show, and Richard Hoiles will be in the commentary box throughout. Former ITV Racing presenter Brough Scott also returns for Grand National day to bring his analysis and unique perspective to the festival.
On the opening day, three Grade One races headline the ITV Racing card - the Doom Bar Anniversary 4 year old Hurdle (2.20pm), the Betway Bowl (2.50pm) and the Betway Aintree Hurdle (3.25pm), plus the amateur riders go over the Grand National fences in the Randox Health Foxhunters' Chase (4.05pm).
Ladies’ Day features four Grade One races including the Betway Novices' Hurdle (2.20pm), Betway Mildmay Novices' Chase (2.50pm), JLT Melling Chase (3.25pm) and the Doom Bar Sefton Novices' Hurdle (4.40pm), plus the professionals are in action over the big fences in the Randox Health Topham Chase (4.05pm)
Saturday’s feature is the 2018 Randox Health Grand National, due off at 5.15pm, with supporting races on the card including the Betway Mersey Novices' Hurdle (2.25pm), Doom Bar Maghull Novices' Chase (3.00pm), Betway Handicap Chase (3.40pm) and the Ryanair Stayers Hurdle (4.20pm). The live race will be followed by a full replay with analysis to show where viewers’ selections finished.
Alongside ITV’s coverage, editions of The Opening Show, presented by Oli Bell, will air on ITV4 every morning throughout the festival to preview each day’s action.
This year has seen the introduction of ITV Racing’s Social Stable - a social media hub based at the track, which is linked to all the channel's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles and is incorporated into the channel’s live programming.
The ITV Racing app has been given a refresh where viewers can take part in on-air polls, take tricky quizzes and watch clips from all of the live races as well as loads of extra video content. The popular ITV7 competition has also returned, bigger and better than ever - with pots of £50,000 on Thursday and Friday, and of £100,000 on Grand National day.
The ITV Racing Twitter account will feature clips during each of the channel’s broadcasts, and the ITV Sport YouTube page will feature daily YouTube Live broadcasts with the ITV Racing team and guests.
In 2017, racing returned to ITV for the first time in 32 years, in a new four-year deal to show UK horse racing on terrestrial television encompassing live broadcasts of almost 100 days of racing each year - including 42 days on the main channel.
ITV Racing’s calendar includes the Grand National, the Cheltenham Festival, the Epsom Derby, and all the other major festivals including Royal Ascot, the Five Classics, plus other highlights such as Future Champions Day at Newmarket and Champions Day at Ascot.