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Clare Balding to be lead presenter for Channel 4 Racing

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Clare Balding is to head up Channel 4′s racing coverage from next year.

“I am absolutely thrilled,” said Clare.

“Racing is my ‘home’ sport and I am delighted that I will still be part of its coverage on TV. I am excited by Channel 4′s plans and the way in which they have committed to expanding the profile of jockeys, trainers and horses.”

Earlier this year the channel won a bidding war reportedly worth £15m to be the sole terrestrial broadcaster of racing after the BBC put in as “competitive a bid as possible” to keep the rights.

It was announced today (Monday 13 August) that Clare, who previously anchored the BBC’s coverage, would be the lead presenter for the channel.

IMG Sports Media, who also cover Wimbledon and golf’s Ryder Cup, has been awarded the four-year production contract for the channel’s racing coverage, which will include all major meetings including the Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National meeting, the Derby Festival, Royal Ascot and Glorious Goodwood.

The deal, in operation from January 2013 till December 2016, runs alongside Channel 4′s four-year media agreement with Racecourse Media Group.

“The winning bid hails the arrival of a new era in broadcasting for the sport at a time when the industry is moving forwards with real momentum. The hard work starts now as we head towards 2013 and the exciting challenges ahead,” said Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4′s sports editor.

Clare’s arrival is superb news for Channel 4 and the production team. Quite simply she is the sports broadcaster of her era and for her to be heading up our coverage across the year is extremely exciting. Racing fans have a lot to look forward to.”