ITV Racing : The Home of British Horse Racing on Terrestrial Television
In 2016, the announcement that ITV Racing would become the exclusive broadcaster of British horse racing on terrestrial television created a buzz within the horse racing community. Following the BBC’s decision to stop airing horse racing in 2012, viewer numbers had declined, and ITV Racing was entrusted with the task of revitalizing the sport’s television coverage.
Led by Ed Chamberlain, ITV Racing set out to provide top-notch coverage of all races, not just the marquee events. Their comprehensive analysis of races catered to knowledgeable racing enthusiasts, while new features like the Social Stable aimed to attract and engage new fans. The positive impact of their efforts was evident, as their contract was extended in 2020, garnering approval from the British Horseracing Authority and other stakeholders. So, what can viewers expect from ITV Racing?
Coverage of British Horse Racing Throughout the Year
ITV Racing covers British horse racing year-round, encompassing both Flat meetings in the summer and National Hunt meetings in the winter, as well as the major festivals in the spring. Regardless of the type of racing being showcased, ITV Racing strives to produce a show that appeals to both die-hard racing enthusiasts and casual viewers.
Two Types of Shows: Saturday Racing and Big Race Meetings
ITV Racing’s coverage can be categorized into two types of shows: Saturday Racing and Big Race Meetings. Saturday racing holds a special place in their coverage, and it serves as the main focus of their programming. The British Horseracing Authority and organizers typically schedule the most significant races of the week on Saturdays, and ITV Racing ensures that their cameras are present at these prestigious events.
The format of the Saturday show varies depending on the day’s race cards. Ed Chamberlain and the main presenters travel to the meeting considered to be the most prominent, previewing, broadcasting, and analyzing four or five races, including the feature race of the day. While the presenters are physically present at one location, ITV Racing broadcasts two or three live races from other tracks, providing thorough coverage that includes form analysis and interviews with jockeys, trainers, and owners. All the live races aired on ITV are also discussed on the Opening Show, presented by Oli Bell, who features pundits from the main show.
Big race meetings are where ITV Racing garners the most public attention and achieves the highest viewing figures. These major events, such as the Cheltenham Festival, Royal Ascot, or the Grand National meeting, are broadcast on ITV’s main channel and receive extended coverage befitting their significance. ITV holds a contract to air the first five or six races at these meetings, ensuring detailed coverage of all the major races. Renowned pundits, including former jockeys such as Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh, provide expert analysis. The program also includes live segments from the betting ring with Matt Chapman and coverage of racegoer fashion with Mark Heyes and Charlotte Hawkins.
The Presenters and Pundits
ITV Racing boasts a talented and diverse team of presenters and pundits who contribute to the success of the show. The on-screen talent keeps viewers engaged and entertained throughout the broadcasts.
Ed Chamberlain, the main presenter, made a notable move from Sky Sports to become the face of ITV Racing. With his infectious passion and enthusiasm for horse racing, Chamberlain brings a modern touch to the coverage, serving as the anchor of the program, linking interviews, races, and discussions among the pundits.
Francesca Cumani, deeply immersed in the sport as the daughter of renowned trainer Luca Cumani, serves as Chamberlain’s sidekick and offers expert insights on horses in the pre-parade ring. She also provides commentary on racecourse fashion at major events.
Matt Chapman, known for his distinctive voice and flamboyant suits, takes on the role of reporting on pre-race betting and interviewing winning jockeys. Chapman’s extensive racing knowledge and vibrant personality make him a standout figure in the betting ring.
Oli Bell, a key member of the team, fulfills various roles as a presenter, analyst, and interviewer. He hosts the Opening Show, engaging in lively debates and discussions alongside fellow presenters and former jockeys. Bell also interacts with fans on social media and at the racecourse through the Social Stable segment.
Sally Ann Grassick, born into a racing family in Ireland, adds her expertise to ITV Racing’s coverage of British meetings. As a freelance journalist and broadcaster, she provides on-site reports, particularly during major events, welcoming trainers, horses, and grooms.
Former jockeys play a vital role in providing expert insights and attracting new fans to the sport. Luke Harvey and Mick Fitzgerald utilize their firsthand knowledge of racing to offer viewers valuable information on ground conditions, hurdles, fences, and the mindset of jockeys. They conduct brief interviews with jockeys before and after races, bringing viewers closer to the action. Alice Plunkett, another retired jockey, shares her extensive knowledge and contacts in the sport, providing valuable perspectives to viewers. Tony McCoy and Ruby Walsh, legendary jumps jockeys, offer analysis and commentary, drawing from their recent experiences in the sport.
With its dedicated team of presenters, pundits, and extensive coverage of British horse racing, ITV Racing has succeeded in bringing the excitement and intricacies of the sport to a wide audience.
About The Punters Preview
The Punters Preview consistently provides some of the best UK ITV horse racing tips around. His method is around using statistical data and trends to find his edge over the bookmakers. In addition to this he runs a every growing friendly racing community channel over on telegram where the many members provide daily tips and horse racing talk.
You can find him on Twitter here along with the Telegram group here
Good luck with the ITV horse racing tips!