Press Centre

ITV Racing: The Grand National Festival Live

  • Episode: 

    1 of 3

  • Title: 

    Opening Day
  • Transmission (TX): 

    Thu 12 Apr 2018
  • TX Confirmed: 

  • Time: 

    2.00pm - 5.00pm
  • Week: 

    Week 15 2018 : Sat 07 Apr - Fri 13 Apr
  • Channel: 

The information contained herein is embargoed from all Press, online, social media, non-commercial publication or syndication - in the public domain - until Tuesday 3 April 2018.
ITV Racing: The Grand National Festival Live
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 14 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.
Thursday 12 April - 2pm - 5pm
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).
Friday 13 April - 2pm - 5pm
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 14 April
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.
ITV’s live festival coverage will also be simulcast on the ITV Hub, on web and app, for viewers to watch online, and our responsively designed ITV Racing site - – helping bring the festival to life.
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.
Ed Chamberlin
When did you first come to Aintree and what's your favourite personal memory of the festival?
My first Grand National memory was backing Spartan Missile in 1981, blissfully unaware of one sport’s great stories unfolding in front of me. I think I was the only person cursing Bob Champion and Aldaniti!
I first went to Aintree in the early 1990s and used to party at the Canal Turn before my first job at Ladbrokes meant I could afford a ticket in the stand to watch Party Politics win the National in 1992. The challenge with friends was to try and get on Grandstand waving behind Des Lynam. How times have changed!
It’s the most famous race in the world, so what in your view makes the Grand National so magical?
It’s the peoples’ race. The one day that horse racing transcends sport. Families gather up and down the land to do their sweepstakes and watch the race. 
To become just the eighth presenter in history to front terrestrial television coverage of the great race was a huge honour and thrill.
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s festival at Aintree?
The big race itself. The day the nation goes racing. Thursday and Friday are relaxed, good fun and beautifully presented by the team at Aintree. Saturday is different. It’s a monster. A British sporting institution. A day that starts early and all builds to an incredible crescendo when the starter climbs on to his rostrum to let go the 40 runners for the 2018 Randox Health Grand National - and millions hold their breath.
Who do you think will win the Grand National and why?
Minella Rocco. I tipped him to with the Gold Cup at Cheltenham before his withdrawal so have to stay loyal. They go so fast in a modern day Grand National that you have to stay every yard. This lad has stamina in abundance plus plenty of class. Let’s not forget Minella Rocco has twice beaten Native River at the Cheltenham Festival.
Oli Bell
When did you first come to Aintree and what's your favourite personal memory of the festival?
My first trip to Aintree for the National was a few years ago when a horse I owned a small part of, The Rainbow Hunter, ran in the race. He gave us a real thrill that day and to be involved in the race whether it’s as an owner, a presenter or a racing fan is very special as it’s the one race that gets everyone in the country talking.
It’s the most famous race in the world, so what in your view makes the Grand National so magical?
For me it’s the one race where anything can happen and it’s the one race that never disappoints. There have been 100-1 winners, great comeback stories such as Aldaniti and Bob Champion, the drama of Foinavon or the brilliance of Red Rum. The Grand National never lets us down.
What are you most looking forward to about this year’s festival at Aintree?
I always love heading up to Aintree. The people of Liverpool and the city are always so welcoming and put on such a good show. There is great racing, eye-catching fashion and good people with amazing stories. What’s not to like!?
Have you got any tips for which horses, jockeys and trainers will do well over the three days?
Bryony Frost the jockey has had an unbelievable season. She’s a young rider from Devon having her first ride in the National on Milansbar and has lit up the National Hunt world this season. Also, Kim Bailey's horse The Last Samuri who was second in the race a few years ago will go well again. 
Any dark horses emerging from the pack which you can tip?
Raz Du Maree won the Welsh National ridden by 16-year-old jockey James Bowen and I think he will run a huge race at a big price. 
Who do you think will win the Grand National and why?
At this stage, The Last Samuri would be my idea of the winner. He loves Aintree and ran well last time. He should give you a run for your money!