Channel 4 has lost the television rights to broadcast some of the biggest horse racing after over three decades. On the first day of 2016 it was announced that this would be the channel’s last year broadcasting horse racing before ITV take over in 2017. The four year deal is thought to be worth around 30 million pounds to the sport. It’s reported that Sky offered more money to take the sport off of terrestrial television, but the heads of the sport hope the sport will attract a bigger audience on ITV.
The deal doesn’t start until New Years Day, so at least fans of the Channel 4 coverage can enjoy a yearlong swansong from the team they know so well. There will be one more Grand National, one more Cheltenham Festival, one more Derby and one more Royal Ascot before ITV takes over all four of the major competitions.
So who is likely to be the first horse to cross the finish line during the last Grand National to be shown on Channel 4 in April? A quick look at the Grand National bet market shows that at the moments bookmakers like Coral think this race is wide open for any horse to win. The favourite at the moment on Coral’s Grand National bet market is last year’s victor Many Clouds, but he has odds of just 12/1 to win. Behind him there are seven horses that share the position of second favourite, all with odds of just 25/1. They include Saint Are, who finished in second place at last year’s Grand National, and Don Poli who managed to beat Many Clouds at Aintree in December. But these long odds are likely to tumble closer to the race, so if you want to get the best odds for your Grand National bet then click here to bet on the race now on the Coral website.
Of course ITV haven’t broadcast a horse race in over 30 years, so they’ll have to start from scratch when putting together their broadcasting team. Whoever the channel chooses will have big shoes to fill, as Channel 4’s coverage made big starts out of the hugely respected Clare Balding and larger than life character of John McCririck. Some tabloids have reported rumours that another controversial figure could front the coverage when it comes to ITV. Jeremy Kyle is best known for conducting DNA and lie detector tests to try and resolve dysfunctional family problems, but rumours suggest he could also front the horse racing for ITV. For many, that could be enough to make them switch from the TV to the internet to find out the result of their Grand National bet.
Horse racing fans are a loyal bunch that doesn’t like change, as they proved with their reaction when many of the Channel 4 pundits were axed from the sport’s coverage. Luckily ITV still has the best part of a year to prepare to take on the big responsibility of one of the biggest spectator sports in the country.