Ed Chamberlin and Francesca Cumani host exclusive free to air coverage of the first major National Hunt festival of the year live from the home of jump racing, Cheltenham on ITV.
Live coverage of the Festival will begin from 1pm on Tuesday 13th of March on ITV , with The Opening Show every morning from Tuesday 13th March until Friday 16th March at 9.30am on ITV4.
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 -itv.com/racing – helping bring the festival to life.
ITV’s coverage will showcase the very best of the action on the turf and all the colour the festival has to offer from the Cotswolds racecourse, where horses and their jockeys will battle it out for prize money of almost £4.6 million.
The channel’s coverage features 18 hours’ live footage, taking in five races per day, going behind the scenes at the course, featuring interviews with key jockeys, trainers and racing legends, sampling the atmosphere in the grandstands, all leading up to the Gold Cup on Friday afternoon.
Joining Ed and Francesca for expert analysis are Sir AP McCoy, Luke Harvey and Mick Fitzgerald, with reporting from Oli Bell and Alice Plunkett. Matt Chapman will have the latest betting news, and Brian Gleeson will provide an Irish angle on the action.
It’s the first time Francesca has presented for ITV live from Cheltenham, 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 essential weather forecasts, expert Eva O’Donoghue will give her views from a veterinary perspective, Mark Heyes and Charlotte Hawkins join the team on Thursday only 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 to bring his analysis and unique perspective to the festival.
On the opening day, the feature race is the Champion Hurdle. Last year's winner Buveur D'Air is a warm favourite to give master trainer Nicky Henderson another win in the race.
Wednesday’s feature race is the Queen Mother Champion Chase, in which one of the equine stars of the sport, Altior will line up as he looks to win at the Cheltenham Festival for a third year in a row after wins in the 2016 Supreme Novices' Hurdle and the 2017 Arkle Chase.
On Thursday viewers will be treated to a brace of Grade One Features. The Sun Bets Stayers' Hurdle is the ultimate prize over the smaller obstacles for those horses in need of a longer trip, while the Ryanair Chase is the newest of the major championship races at the festival having been introduced in 2005 when the event was expanded from three days to four.
And on Friday, the highlight of the festival is the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup where Might Bite is the favourite to take the trophy and overcome his Cheltenham quirks.
Alongside ITV’s coverage, 60-minute editions of The Opening Show, presented by Oli Bell, will air on ITV4 every morning throughout the festival to preview each day’s action.
The festival will see the introduction of ITV Racing’s Social Stable - a social media hub also hosted by Oli Bell, based at the track, which will be linked to all the channel's Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles and will be incorporated into the channel’s live programming.
The ITV Racing app has been given a refresh ahead of the festival 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 will also return ahead of the festival, bigger and better than ever.
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.
Cheltenham is the first major festival in ITV’s calendar, which includes the Grand National, 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.