ITV Racing’s coverage of this year’s Cheltenham Festival will be expanded to include six races per day for the first time.
The broadcaster will fit the races into a daily programme running from 1PM to 4:30PM, with each afternoon’s opening contest being brought forward to a provisional time of 1:20PM. In addition, each day’s main event will take place at 3:05PM.
Meanwhile, in order for the races to fit this tight schedule, the gap between each meeting has been reduced from 40 minutes to 35 minutes.
Racecourse Media Group – the rights holder to the week-long festival – usually allows its mainstream partner ITV to broadcast five races, as the final two are a pivotal part of the contract with subscriber-based Racing TV.
However, as it becomes increasingly clear that this year’s edition of the festival will be the second to be held behind closed doors, RMG has reached an agreement with ITV to ensure maximum audience exposure.
“We’re really grateful to RMG and ITV for enabling all those who will be enjoying the festival from home to enjoy a sixth race in this one year,” said Ian Renton, Regional Managing Director of the Jockey Club.
Irish bookmaker Paddy Power has been chosen as the title sponsor of the Festival Plate Handicap Chase, which will be branded as the Paddy Power Plate, as well as the headline partner of ITV Racing.
The Plate’s former sponsors Brown Advisory and Merribelle Stable have been named the backers of the RSA Novices’ Chase.
In other news, the entire festival will be sponsored by Cheltenaham-based nationwide UK charity WellChild, which has also acquired the naming rights to the Gold Cup race following an agreement with the Jockey Club.