Channel 4 Racing’s presenting team has had a shake up — bringing in some new names and dropping some familiar faces, in the form of John McCririck and Derek Thompson.
McCririck told the Racing Post he was “devastated” not to be included, while Derek Thompson was also “very disappointed”.
At the helm, Racing UK and the Morning Line’s Nick Luck is to join Clare Balding as lead presenter on the new line up, from January.
Clare will be supported by Nick at all the premium racing events — including Cheltenham Festival, the Grand National meeting, the Derby Festival, Royal Ascot, Glorious Goodwood and British Champions Day. He will also anchor the regular Saturday afternoon programmes.
“I would like to thank Channel 4 and IMG for what is an incredibly exciting opportunity,” said Nick. “Together, they have some fantastic and dynamic ideas to drive the sport forward and I very much look forward to being part of the new team.”
Nick and Clare will be joined by Alice Plunkett, Emma Spencer, Rishi Persad, Jim McGrath, Graham Cunningham and Mick Fitzgerald.
Commentary will be by Simon Holt and Richard Hoiles. Betting will be with Tanya Stevenson.
Attheraces presenter Gina Bryce and jump jockey Sam Thomas will also join the team “in time”.
Also absent from the new team are Alastair Down and Mike Cattermole. John Francome ruled himself out as soon as the announcement was made that Highflyer would not get the contract to produce the programme and Lesley Graham is the new chief executive of Racing Welfare
The first show with the new team will be from Cheltenham racecourse on Tuesday 1 January 2013.
Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4’s sports editor, added: “Being the new home of horseracing is a real privilege and I’m delighted to announce this carefully selected team of presenters and reporters; a mix of broadcasting heavyweights and racing experts.
“Sports fans have something to look forward to – our racing coverage will be insightful,intelligent and ground-breaking. I’m hugely excited about the future of racing on Channel 4 and greatly look forward to 2013.”