Sport switches channel

William Hill to sponsor ITV racing coverage

New Year's Day meeting (photo by Terry Murden)
New Year’s Day meeting (photo by Terry Murden)

William Hill has agreed a one-year sponsorship of ITV’s new racing coverage.

The bookmaker will sponsor almost 100 days of live racing across the main channel and ITV4, in addition to a magazine preview programme on ITV4.

ITV takes over from Channel Four which has ended a 32-year partnership with horse racing. Only a handful of its presenters will make the switch when the sport moves to its new home this weekend.

Former Grand National winning jockeys Tony McCoy and Mick Fitzgerald will be joined by presenter Rishi Persad and commentator Richard Hoiles.

Nick Luck, Gina Harding, Tanya Stevenson, Graham Cunningham and Simon Holt are among the non-runners looking for alternative employment.

ITV’s new faces include  Ed Chamberlin, who has been lured from Sky Sports football, and Francesca Cumani, the daughter of Derby-winning trainer Luca. Other pundits include jockeys Frankie Dettori and Hayley Turner, together with cyclist-turned-jockey Victoria Pendleton.

Under a £30 million four-year deal ITV will show 41 days of racing on its main channel, while some meetings are being shown on ITV4, including Sandown’s Tingle Creek meeting, the Coral Welsh National and the Cheltenham Trials Day.

ITV will broadcast its first live race meetings for 27 years from Musselburgh, on ITV4, and Cheltenham on ITV1.

It will broadcast Musselburgh’s two feature races, the £30,000 Auld Reekie Handicap Steeple Chase and the totepool Mobile Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle with £40,000 prize money.

However, there will be no further coverage on ITV1 between the New Year’s Day meetings and the opening day of the Cheltenham Festival, almost two-and-a-half months later.

A big winner is Newmarket, whose Craven meeting in April, not shown by Channel 4 in recent years, will be broadcast free-to-air on ITV4.

Newmarket has also benefited with two of its key days, the 1,000 Guineas on Sunday, 7 May and the Saturday of its Future Champions meeting on 14 October, among the six added to ITV’s original roster for its main channel. 

Presenter Oli Bell will anchor the 1 January broadcast from East Lothian while Chamberlin takes the reins at Cheltenham’s first meeting of 2017.

Bell will be ITV4’s regular host of the Opening Show, the channel’s Saturday morning magazine show.

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