RACING presenter Oli Bell has confirmed a big change to ITV’s coverage of the Cheltenham Festival this year.
The blockbuster four-day meeting is the biggest in the sport and the climax of the National Hunt season.
Punters can expect to see a lot more of Bell, second from the right, and Co this year
ITV have shown a real commitment to covering as much racing as possible in recent years.
And the good news for punters is that this is going to be extended just in time for the March showpiece.
Bell – once branded a ‘lunatic’ by the late Queen – said the popular Opening Show, which acts a preview to the main event, is being extended to 90 minutes.
An additional half an hour of coverage will serve to give punters a guide to the day’s upcoming action.
An ITV statement read: “ITV Racing’s The Opening Show is to be expanded to a 90min slot for all four days of the Cheltenham Festival, an increase on its hour-long slot of recent years.
“Hosted by Oli Bell, the programme will air from 8.30am-10.00am on ITV4 & ITVX in order to provide viewers with a fuller preview of each day’s races and capture more of the morning action as the Irish contingent exercise out on track at Prestbury Park.
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“Sally Ann Grassick will resume her reporting role based in the middle of the track bringing the audience up close to the horses, jockeys, trainers and stable staff, including regular catch ups with Ruby Walsh.
“Pundits will include fellow Festival winners Sir AP McCoy, Mick Fitzgerald and Luke Harvey along with Matt Chapman, Megan Nicholls, Rishi Persad, and Kevin Blake.
“Chris Hughes will be part of the show each morning chatting to racegoers as the atmosphere builds and viewers will be able to join in the show via ITV Racing’s Social Stable.”
Bell added: “It’s such a special event and I’m really looking forward to bringing the audience the first shots of Cheltenham each day of the festival – and hopefully with our great team of experts we will be able to find the viewers plenty of winners!”
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