|Channel 4 Racing|
|Presented by||Nick Luck|
|Voices of||Simon Holt|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Producers||Highflyer (1984 – 2012) |
IMG Sports Media (2013 – 2016)
|Original network||Channel 4 |
|Original release||22 March 1984 –|
27 December 2016
The first transmission of racing on the channel was on 22 March 1984 from Doncaster, as it took over midweek coverage which had previously been on ITV. On 5 October 1985, it took over ITV's Saturday afternoon coverage (previously The ITV Seven) when World of Sport finished. From the beginning of 1986, however, the amount of racing covered, especially on Saturday afternoons, was substantially reduced, and not until the late 1990s would it reach the scale it had enjoyed when it was on ITV.
End of Channel 4 Racing
On 1 January 2016 it was announced that Channel 4 had lost their horse racing rights after 32 years to ITV who would have exclusive free to air rights to British horse racing from 1 January 2017. The reason for the change was said to be that ratings had dipped for most of the big meetings that used to be broadcast on the BBC up to 2012 since the move to Channel 4. Under the new deal ITV will show a minimum of 40 days of horse racing live on ITV with a further 60 days a year live on ITV4 with ITV Sport also producing their own coverage rather than Independent Producers.
Initially, it was announced that Channel 4 would broadcast their final day of horse racing on 31 December 2016, with the rights moving to ITV on the following day. It was announced at the start of December 2016 however that the last day of racing would not be on 31 December. Owing to logistical problems, the last day of Channel 4 Racing was on 27 December 2016, when Channel 4 screened action from Kempton’s Christmas meeting as well as the Welsh Grand National from Chepstow. As New Year's Eve fell on a Saturday that year, this meant it was the first Saturday in recent memory that horse racing was not shown on terrestrial television. Instead, pay channel Racing UK made its coverage available free to air for the day.
Major UK events covered by Channel 4 included the 1,000 Guineas and 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, the Derby and Oaks from Epsom and the St Leger at Doncaster, Royal Ascot and the Cheltenham Festival. These events have moved between the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 over the years.
Channel 4 Racing mainly, but not exclusively, featured meetings from the Racing UK courses having initially signed a three-year contract which ran between 1 January 2007 and 31 December 2009 - the contract guaranteed 80 days of racing each year on Channel 4. Coverage is sponsored by Dubai.
From 2013, Channel 4 Racing became the exclusive home of free-to-air televised racing, having signed a four-year deal in March 2012. Coverage included all major races including The Derby, Cheltenham Festival and for the first time on Channel 4, the Grand National and Royal Ascot, and international races including the Dubai World Cup and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.
The Morning Line
The Morning Line was a Saturday morning look at the day's live horse racing on Channel 4. It provided tips and advice for the forthcoming day's racing. The show featured contributions from a panel of racing pundits. Every Saturday the team of pundits had a virtual £100 with which they make their charity bet selections for the day.
Since its inception in 1984, Channel 4 Racing featured many of racing's best known journalists and presenters, including Derek Thompson, Lesley Graham, John Francome, John Oaksey, John McCririck, Brough Scott, Mike Cattermole and Stewart Machin.
The line-up was refreshed by new production company IMG Sports Media in 2013. Former BBC anchor Clare Balding led coverage of major festivals such as Cheltenham, Aintree and Royal Ascot, whilst the rest of the time coverage was fronted by Nick Luck. Alice Plunkett and Emma Spencer filled in as presenters when both Balding and Luck were absent, and also served as interviewers and reporters on the programme alongside Gina Harding and Rishi Persad. Jim McGrath, Graham Cunningham, Mick Fitzgerald and occasionally former champion jockey AP McCoy provided analysis, whilst Tanya Stevenson, Brian Gleeson and Tom Lee were the programme's betting correspondents. After 2000 the senior commentator was Simon Holt, while Richard Hoiles commentated either at the second most important meeting of the day, or filled in for Holt when he was absent. Very occasionally Hoiles also acted as main presenter of the programme. Ian Bartlett was usually the third choice commentator.
- "ITV announce Horse Racing Deal". ITV Press Centre. ITV. Retrieved 4/1/2016. Check date values in:
- Cook, Chris (2 December 2016). "Channel 4's early racing exit means landmark terrestrial TV blackout". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 December 2016.
- Channel 4 contract signed Archived 29 May 2007 at the Wayback Machine Racing UK
- "Channel 4 gets rights for Grand National, Derby and Royal Ascot". BBC Sport. 19 March 2012. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
- "Channel 4 Racing presenter biographies - Channel 4 - Info - Press". www.channel4.com. Retrieved 19 July 2016.