ITV to show six Cheltenham Festival races live each day for the first time
The Cheltenham Festival will this year receive more coverage on ITV than ever before after it was revealed six races are to be broadcast live each day.
With it looking ever likelier that the sport's greatest meeting will be staged behind closed doors, rights manager Racecourse Media Group has given ITV one-off permission to extend its output beyond the five daily races in its contract.
As a result of the change, and in order to allow ITV to fit six races within a programme that runs from 1pm to 4.30pm, the gap between races is to be reduced to 35 minutes from 40 minutes. The opening contest each afternoon is also being brought forward to a new provisional time of 1.20pm, meaning each card's showpiece event will be run at 3.05pm.
RMG normally restricts the sport's mainstream partner to five races as the final two contests are seen as an important part of the package offered to Racing TV subscribers. However, with Cheltenham's doors this year almost certain to be closed to racegoers, RMG has reached an agreement with ITV to reflect the unique circumstances.
Jockey Club regional managing director Ian Renton said: "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."
The inaugural running of the festival's new mares' chase will now be shown on ITV, as for the first time will the Boodles Juvenile Handicap Hurdle, the Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Challenge Cup Chase and the Daylesford Mares' Novices' Hurdle.
Paddy Power, sponsors of the mares' chase and Stayers' Hurdle, have also been named as backers of the Festival Plate Handicap Chase, now known as the Paddy Power Plate. Its former sponsors, Brown Advisory and Merriebelle Stable, have been upgraded to what was previously the RSA Novices' Chase.
That race, for which Monkfish is odds-on favourite, is also no longer the only British Grade 1 jumps prize in the calendar without a registered title after it was rechristened with its original name, the Broadway Novices' Chase.
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