Television coverage of the Derby at Epsom next year could be switched to BBC from Channel 4.
By becoming the centrepiece of a BBC Grandstand programme Britain’s premier classic race would receive a big boost in viewing figures.
The change of broadcaster would come as a direct result of the recent success of the Go Racing consortium in the battle over the rights to TV pictures from Britain’s racecourses. Go Racing is comprised of Channel 4, Sky Television and Arena Leisure,the owner of six racecourses.
Despite Channel 4 having a contract to show the Derby next year, the switch to BBC is part of an agreement within Go Racing, which put in a £400 million bid for all racing’s media rights over 10 years and beat rival consortium Carlton.
Last year the Derby was watched by an audience of 2.5 million on Channel 4.
Sue Ellen. Epsom’s managing director, is keen for the profile of the Derby to return to its former high level. “We want the Derby to be a national event rather than just a horserace and getting a bigger television audience is the key,” she said.
The Derby was last screened on BBC 20 years ago.