Racing fans will be able to watch action from Newbury and Warwick for free on New Year’s Eve, thanks to subscription channel Racing UK.
It comes after Channel 4 Racing confirmed its coverage would end on 27 December with racing from Kempton and the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.
With the switch in racing coverage from Channel 4 to ITV kicking off on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham, it means there will be no scheduled racing coverage on New Year’s Eve on terrestrial television for the first Saturday in recent history. Logistical issues with the handover of equipment to ITV are said to be the reason for the TV blackout.
Racing UK jumped to the rescue and is set to show action from Newbury’s high-quality card — featuring the Grade One Betfred Challow Hurdle — and Warwick for no subscription fee.
“I am delighted that Racing UK is pulling out all the stops to make sure that as many people as possible, who can’t make it to Newbury in person, will be able to enjoy the racing live,” said Andy Clifton, head of communications at Newbury racecourse.
ITV, the new home of racing, is set to show 41 days of live racing action throughout the year on its main channel, produced by ITV Sport — including the major meetings from the Cheltenham Festival, Grand National, Royal Ascot, Epsom, all five Classics plus other highlights such as Champion’s Day at Ascot and more.
The new four-year deal to broadcast racing in the UK on terrestrial television will include almost 100 days of racing — split between ITV’s main channel and ITV4.
There will be a re-introduction of a free-to-air broadcast of the Craven meeting at Newmarket in April as part of ITV4’s coverage.
The new on-screen faces include Ed Chamberlin as main presenter, and his co-presenter during the Flat season will be Francesca Cumani, while Matt Chapman will be the betting reporter.
The channel has racing experts on board including AP McCoy, Hayley Turner, Mick Fitzgerald, Jason Weaver, Luke Harvey, Brian Gleeson and Brough Scott.
Meanwhile, both Frankie Dettori and Victoria Pendleton are also included in the new line-up and Rishi Persad, Sally-Ann Grassick and Alice Plunkett all have reporting roles — with Richard Hoiles as the lead commentator and ITV weather expert Lucy Verasamy providing weather updates.
Channel 4 Racing’s current morning show, The Morning Line, is set to be replaced with ITV’s Saturday morning ‘magazine show’ called The Opening Show — on ITV4 from 10am-11am — and it will be hosted by Oli Bell.
ITV released its promotional video on 2 December and it was shown on the main channel in the advert breaks during both the I’m a Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here and X Factor finals (watch video, above).