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The Opening Show extends on-air time for Cheltenham Festival

- The Opening Show extended to 90mins for Cheltenham Festival

- Programme to be broadcast from Kim Bailey's stables THIS Saturday 28 January

ITV Racing's The Opening Show is to be expanded to a 90min slot for all four days of the Cheltenham Festival, an increase on its hour-long slot of recent years.

Hosted by Oli Bell, the programme will air from 8.30am-10.00am on ITV4 & ITVX in order to provide viewers with a fuller preview of each day's races and capture more of the morning action as the Irish contingent exercise out on track at Prestbury Park.

Sally Ann Grassick will resume her reporting role based in the middle of the track bringing the audience up close to the horses, jockeys, trainers and stable staff, including regular catch ups with Ruby Walsh. Pundits will include fellow Festival winners Sir AP McCoy, Mick Fitzgerald and Luke Harvey along with Matt Chapman, Megan Nicholls, Rishi Persad, and Kevin Blake. Chris Hughes will be part of the show each morning chatting to racegoers as the atmosphere builds and viewers will be able to join in the show via ITV Racing's Social Stable.

In the meantime, this weekend's episode of The Opening Show on 28th January will be live from Kim Bailey's stables on the outskirts of Cheltenham in its regular Saturday slot of 9.30am-10.30am on ITV4. Alice Plunkett will be co-presenting the show from Thorndale Farm, taking viewers behind the scenes of a racing yard on a busy Saturday morning. Alice will speak to Kim Bailey and also join several of his staff as they go about their varying roles ahead of a raceday. Oli Bell and Ruby Walsh will be based at Cheltenham previewing Festival Trials Day, and Matt Chapman will be at Doncaster. It follows recent guest appearances from Harry Skelton, Tom Scudamore, Lilly Pinchin and Andrew Black.

ITV Racing's afternoon coverage will incorporate the rescheduled Albert Bartlett Clarence House Chase at 1.20pm as part of eight live races. The programme will be on air from 1.15-4.00pm on ITV1, STV and ITVX.

As regards the extended programme at the Festival, Opening Show editor Tim Williams said:

"We want to do all the Festival races justice, while not sacrificing any of the magic we get from the middle of the track. This move enables us to do that better. The Irish challengers have become more important than ever and we're always grateful to be able to chat to the riders and key connections then. From drones to trackers, we'll have all the cameras in place to get even more spectacular shots of horses exercising and having a pick of grass that our viewers love. With five major races a day to look at, the extra time will allow our top punditry team to analyse each race in more depth, debate more of the day's talking points, and have a bit more fun as our audience prepares for the day ahead."

"We're also really looking forward to sending Alice to Kim Bailey's on Saturday and are grateful to him for opening his doors to the cameras. There'll be plenty going on and it's great to be able to provide a different perspective for our Opening Show viewers. Hopefully we'll be doing many more stable visits like this throughout 2023."

Opening Show presenter Oli Bell said:

“I’m delighted that The Opening Show will be extended to 90 minutes for the Festival. As we know it’s a massive sporting event and so for us to be able to dedicate an hour and a half to the big race build up, the key interviews and seeing those incredible shots of the horses working on course in the early hours is great news. It’s such a special event and I’m really looking forward to bringing the audience the first shots of Cheltenham each day of the festival - and hopefully with our great team of experts we will be able to find the viewers plenty of winners!”

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