New faces revealed as ITV line-up takes shape

Racing Ahead
Racing Ahead

Our racing pundit Tony McCormick from and, the world’s largest independent horse racing website, has the latest on the new ITV racing team.

ITV Sport’s dripfeeding the names of presenters and analysts over the last six months is becoming almost as tedious as the shower they are replacing. I say replacing, extremely loosely, as the mind-numbing Mick Fitzgerald was the latest name to be added to the ITV roster.

ITV Sport bosses were clearly glued to the Olympics a number of weeks ago as the hapless former jump jockey got completely lost during a conversation with the canny Jim McGrath about converting pounds to lengths, Fitzgerald, to his credit, knowing he was out of his depth, moved quickly on to runners and riders of the next race, much to McGrath’s amusement.

Hopefully Fitzgerald is kept to national hunt racing, where he does know his stuff.

Channel 4 Racing did themselves no favours this year by having the aforementioned Fitzgerald and former champion jockey Tony McCoy as experts for their Derby and Royal Ascot coverage.

So let’s study the facts, as Graham Cunningham usually says. Terrestrial output on flat racing’s two biggest meetings had two legendary former jump jockeys having to answer what the riders in the Derby would be thinking as they approached Tattenham Corner? Or what goes through your mind as you line up with the other 29 jockeys in the Kings Stand?

Seriously, this is what Channel 4 have been serving up. The guy who has the burger stall on Tattenham Corner would have more idea.

Just when you thought terrestrial TV coverage couldn’t get any worse, ITV big-wigs swooped for Britain’s most successful female jockey, Hayley Turner. If anyone has seen Ms Turner’s performances on At The Races, they would be surprised at her inclusion.

Fitzgerald made the move from the BBC to Channel 4, along with Clare Balding and Rishi Persad, with the latter making the same move to join the team. So far ITV Sport have pounced for Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football anchor, Ed Chamberlain and Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani’s daughter Francesca, who will present the flat racing coverage, with Alice Plunkett carrying on her role during the National Hunt season.

Cumani, who is different class as a presenter on Australia’s Channel 7 and CNN’s Winning Post, will make up a powerful presenting duo alongside Chamberlain, something Channel 4 missed out on, mainly due to a certain presenter’s insistence on her being the lone figure in front of the camera.

Racing UK’s Oli Bell has been told he has a job, as has Irish racing presenter, Sally Ann Grassick, another good signing given her vast knowledge of the Irish and French racing scene.

McCoy announced on Tuesday that his agent had spoken to ITV some time ago, but had not heard anymore. Betting guru Tanya Stevenson, Tom Lee and Gina Harding have all been told they will not be switching channels.

It’s two weeks before ITV unveil the full team, which still may include ATR’s Matt Chapman and Bob Cooper.