The 2012 Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will not be shown on free-to-air television after the BBC and Channel 4 decided against picking up the rights to the event.
Dedicated racing channels At The Races and Racing UK will pick up coverage of Europe’s most prestigious flat race live from Longchamp, but none of the meeting will be broadcast on a free-to-air network for the first time in many years.
Channel 4 confirmed that the 2012 meeting on October 6-7 will not feature on its schedules but hopes to have the event as part of its expanded live racing portfolio from next year.
Previous rights holders BBC, who have shown the race for the majority of the last two decades, also decided against screening the Longchamp meeting in its final year of broadcasting the sport’s marquee events before it pulls out from televised horse racing.
Frankie Dettori has been confirmed to ride Camelot, winner of this year’s Epsom Derby and 2000 Guineas, in the 2012 Arc.
The Aiden O’Brien colt boosts the race in the absence of high-profile pre-race favourites Danedream, Nathaniel and Snow Fairy.
Camelot narrowly missed out on the Triple Crown when runner-up in the St Leger at Doncaster on September 15.
Dettori has previously won the Arc on Lammtarra (1995), Sakhee (2001) and Marienbard (2002).
The Longchamp flat meeting has traditionally been an annual highlight on the BBC’s racing schedules, with the corporation screening the €4m race in 16 of the past 17 years.
Channel 4 Racing has covered the Arc twice in its history, including Dancing Brave’s iconic triumph in 1986, and again in 2001.
Last year, the BBC secured the Longchamp rights despite strong interest from Channel 4, but only signed a one-year deal.
The corporation will pull out all live horse racing at the end of 2012 after it was outbid by Channel 4 for the rights to all free-to-air racing coverage from 2013 to 2016.
Following this announcement in March, the BBC took an almost immediate decision not to extend its coverage of the Arc and formally parted company with the event.Channel 4 Racing in 2013 – Promo
Channel 4 delayed its final decision to take on this year’s Arc as it was preoccupied with the London 2012 Paralympic Games during the summer.
But despite opting to leave the race out of its portfolio for the 2012, the broadcaster is keen to pick up the rights to the meeting from next year.
A Channel 4 spokeswoman told Racing Post: “The 2012 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will not feature in Channel 4’s racing schedule.
“The channel is proactively working towards 2013, the period in which we become horseracing’s sole terrestrial broadcaster.
“Discussions are under way and we hope next year’s race will be part of Channel 4’s portfolio.”
Channel 4 is set to relaunch its racing output on New Year’s Day, when renound racing Clare Balding will join an IMG-produced team that replaces the BBC as the home of the key meetings on British horse racing calendar, including the Grand National and Royal Ascot.
In absence of free-to-air TV coverage, viewers will have a choice viewing for this year’s Arc meeting, with both dedicated horse racing channels At The Races and Racing UK providing live coverage.
At The Races will have an on-course presence at Longchamp for the first time, with presenter Matt Chapman due to host from the track during the day.
Race fans will be able to watch Racing UK’s coverage free of charge from 12pm to 5.30pm on October 7 – via internet-connected televisions or Freeview set-top boxes – as the channel goes unencrypted to bring viewers all the drama and excitement from the French course.
Freeview 231 is currently available in around five million homes in the UK, and, as well as presenting an alternative to satellite and cable, the channel offers interactive options, such as on-screen colour racecards, results and news.
Nick Luck will present the channel’s comprehensive coverage of the day’s action from Longchamp.
Racing UK’s Marketing Director Clive Cottrell said: “We’ve decided to make the fantastic card, which boasts seven Group 1 races, free to view, given it won’t be on terrestrial TV this year.
“Freeview is easy to operate either through a Freeview-enabled TV or a set-top box, which is connected to the internet.
“The added bonus of watching Racing UK on Freeview is that it opens up very exciting interactive opportunities, such as finding out the latest odds and results.”
Coverage of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe will also be broadcast on BBC Radio 5 live in Sunday’s 5 live Sport.
Racing from Longchamp
Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe 2012 – Race start: 3.25pmLIVE on At The Races & Racing UK Radio commentary on BBC Radio 5 live