Twenty thrilling races and over 20 hours of live action featuring the world’s best jump jockeys and horses will be televised live on Channel 4 from the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.
Jump racing’s greatest festival to provide four days of magic, madness and magnificence, played out on a stage framed by the breathtaking vista of the Cotswold Hills.
The 2013 edition runs from March 12-15 and Channel 4 will have extensive coverage of the first major meeting on the British racing calendar, led for the first time by Clare Balding and the new on-air team.
There are few sporting occasions offering more anticipation and excitement than the Festival in March where the home of jumping stages the National Hunt ‘Olympics’ featuring the Champion Hurdle, Queen Mother Champion Chase and the blue-ribband Cheltenham Gold Cup on Friday.
It features the best and the bravest horses and jockeys, nervous and excited trainers and owners, who will all perform in front of an audience in excess of 200,000 people during the week as they come together determined to have the time of their lives.
For racing’s practitioners, Festival glory provides lifelong memories and defines careers, representing the true yardstick to how greatness is measured.
Last year’s Cheltenham Festival attracted nearly a quarter of a million spectators, making it the fifth best attended sporting event of the year, outside of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Headling the opening day is the £400,000 Stan James Champion Hurdle when Rock on Ruby will be defending his crown against three other past winners, including Binocular, Hurricane Fly and Punjabi in an attempt to give his young trainer Harry Fry his first Festival winner.
Tuesday is Ladies’ Day, with odds on favourite, Sprinter Sacre will race in the sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase, with anything less than a convincing victory for the horse described as the ‘Frankel of the jumps world’ being a major shock.
The spotlight on St Patrick’s Thursday switches to long distance hurdlers in the Ladbrokes World Hurdle, where in the absence of the all-conquering Big Buck’s the attention turns onto Oscar Whisky, who will be out to prove his stamina in one of the race’s most competitive recent renewals.
Four days of drama reaches an nail-biting climax with the blue-ribband Cheltenham Gold Cup, featuring many of the best steeple chasers from Britain and Ireland, including previous winner Long Run and the emerging Silvinaco Conti.
For racing aficionados, the Festival is the highlight of the jump season with more than 230,000 people expected to attend across all four days to watch the best jumps horses battling it out up the famous Cheltenham hill in in one of the country’s most picturesque sporting venues.
The Festival is one of those rare sporting events that exudes passion and fun in equal measure and Channel 4 will have exclusive terrestrial coverage of the arguably the sport’s showpiece meeting of the year.
Full details of how to follow the 2013 Cheltenham Festival below:
Channel 4 will have exclusive terrestrial coverage of the Cheltenham Festival with 20 of the 27 races being shown live and in high-definition on Channel 4 HD.
The 2013 Festival will be the 19th screened on Channel 4 since it took over the rights to the event from the BBC in 1995, but it will the first to be covered by new Channel 4 Racing producers IMG Media, as well as the new on-air presenting team led by new recruit Clare Balding.
As in previous years though, Channel 4 will provide extensive coverage of the Festival starting every day with of The Morning Line at 8am, where Nick Luck and the Channel 4 team provide their usual mix of news, features and tips, plus a special daily guest providinge viewers with crucial pointers for the day ahead.
Former top jump jockey Mick Fitzgerald will be track-side every morning to give his expert evaluation of that day’s runners with Sam Thomas reporting from the stables.
Live coverage gets underway each day at 12.35pm with just under a hour of build-up and special features ahead of the first race at 1.30pm.
Clare Balding and Nick Luck lead the presenting team for the first time at a major festival for Channel 4.
Previously the main anchor of the BBC TV racing output for 15 years, Balding will present her first Cheltenham Festival on television in 2013.
She will share presenting duties with Nick Luck, who will be based in the new Channel 4 Racing studio throughout the week alongside expert analysts Jim McGrath, Graham Cunningham and Mick Fitzgerald.
Clare says: “When joining Channel 4 Racing I said that my highlight will be broadcasting live on television from the Cheltenham Festival for the very first time, and I can’t wait.
“The Cheltenham Festival attracts the best horses in a beautiful setting with a constant atmosphere of excitement and enthusiasm.
“It will be a privilege to see Sprinter Sacre run in the Queen Mother Champion Chase on Wednesday – he will stop the show.
“For me personally 2012 was an awesome year with The Games and 2013 is proving equally so – I have been given the chance to present my home sport all under one roof.”
Two familiar faces will be returning to the Channel team for the Cheltenham Festival.
The show’s former presenter Alastair Down, who has anchored Cheltenham coverage during the past decade, makes a comeback to Channel 4 having been dropped at the end of 2012.
Down will deliver daily essay-style preview packages each day during Channel 4’s live coverage. He is expected to be part of the Channel 4 team at other major meetings during the year.
Ted Walsh, former trainer and father of former Cheltenham Gold Cup winning jockey Ruby as well as Irish National Hunt jockey Katie, has also been invited back to the Channel 4 analysis team for the Festival and will give his insights.
Alice Plunkett and Rishi Persad will be the on-course reporters, talking to all the key and influential people in the parade ring as well as getting the crucial interviews with the winning jockeys.
The imperious voice of Simon Holt will for the thirteenth consecutive year bring all 20 of Channel 4’s live races to life with his expert running commentary, while all the latest news and opinion from the betting ring will be provided by Tanya Stevenson.
Channel 4 will also be delivering several new innovations to enhance viewers’ enjoyment, including the ‘Movie Bird Crane’, placed at the last fence on the inside of the track giving viewers an unprecedented view of the final leap before the valiant uphill finish, and to achieve the best possible angle for the closing stages of each race.
Through careful negotiation, access to the Jockeys’ Changing Room during the Festival has been extended by the British Horseracing Authority and the Professional Jockeys Association. All potential Stewards Enquiries will also be screened live throughout the meeting.
Five races will be covered during each live Channel 4 broadcast, with the feature races – including the blue-ribband Cheltenham Gold Cup – off at 3.20pm.
A nightly highlights show rounding up each day’s action will be shown on Channel 4 after 12midnight, though viewers can catch up on these programmes – as well as every Channel 4 Cheltenham Festival broadcast – via 4OD.
All of the Channel 4’s coverage will be streamed online via channel4.com.
Channel 4 is the exclusive home of horse racing on terrestrial television for at least the next four years with the broadcaster due to cover its first Grand National from Aintree in April and the prestigious Royal Ascot meeting in June.
Carl Hicks, Executive Producer for IMG, responsible for Channel 4’s racing coverage, explains: “Everyone at IMG is very excited about bringing the drama and excitement of Cheltenham Festival to Channel 4’s viewers for the first time.
“Coverage of the event has a great tradition, and we hope to continue and develop this with some great stories set to unfold over the four days.
“It is said that these four days are the Olympics for jump racing participants and fans, and the great thing is we get our Olympics at home every year!”
Jamie Aitchison, Channel 4’s Sports Editor, explains: “The Festival is always a special event on Channel 4 and we’re looking forward to seeing Clare, Carl and the team get stuck into one of the iconic sporting events of the year.
“This is the first of our Crown Jewels of the year and IMG have been working tirelessly filming features and innovating to bring the excitement of the event into people’s homes.”
Dedicated horse racing channel Racing UK will screen complete coverage of the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.
All 27 races will be broadcast live across the four-day festival, including exclusive live coverage of the final two races on each day.
To subscribe to Racing UK: CLICK HERE
The BBC has extended its live radio coverage of the Cheltenham Festival for 2013 with every single race available live across Radio 5 live and 5 live Sports Extra.
John Inverdale will present BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra’s coverage from Cheltenham, along with racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght.
There is more airtime this year with Radio 5 live coverage from 1.30pm-4.00pm Tuesday to Thursday (March 12-14), and 1.00pm-4.00pm on the Friday (March 15).
There will also be additional coverage daily 4.00pm-5.30pm on 5 live Sports Extra, so every race of the festival will be covered.
Commentary comes from John Hunt and Luke Harvey, and eight-time Champion Jumps Jockey Peter Scudamore will again offer his expert insight and analysis.
Comedian Kevin Day and tipster Rob Nothman will also be involved with 5 live’s coverage.
Respected broadcaster and former Channel 4 presenter Derek Thompson will join the BBC’s Cheltenham Festival team to bring listeners all the post-race interviews and breaking news.
The line-up is also enhanced by Andrew Thornton, the 1998 Gold Cup-winning jockey, and Paralympian and broadcaster Kate Grey, who joins as a roving reporter.
Jonathan Wall, Acting Controller of BBC Radio 5 live and 5 live sports extra, said: The sport has always been a core part of BBC Radio 5 live’s output and 2013 will see more great coverage led by the best commentary team in the business, Cornelius Lysaght and John Hunt.
“We’re really looking forward to the Cheltenham Festival, when the whole station gets involved to bring all the action, atmosphere and excitement to listeners. I’m also delighted to welcome Andrew, Derek and Kate to our team.”
John Inverdale’s Cheltenham Festival memories – CLICK HERE
All the excitement, drama and stories begin on day one of the world’s greatest jump racing festival.
Can Rock On Ruby defend his title in the £400,000 Stan James Champion Hurdle? Or will Ireland’s Hurricane Run become only the second horse ever to regain the hurdling crown under Ruby Walsh?
A total of 22 horses are expected to line up in the extended two-mile contest with 2011 winner Hurricane Fly, who is unbeaten in four starts since finishing third in 2012, leading the field.
Last year’s winner Rock On Ruby remains in the mix to repeat last year’s success, while Zarkandar was successful in the StanJames.com International at Cheltenham in December.13:30 – William Hill Supreme Novices’ Hurdle 14:05 – Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Chase 14:40 – JLT Specialty Handicap Chase 15:20 – Stan James Champion Hurdle Challenge Trophy 16:00 – Glenfarclas Handicap Chase 16:40 – OLBG Mares’ Hurdle 17:15 – Pulteney Land Investments Novices’ Handicap Chase The Morning Line: 7.55am-8.55am – Channel 4 DAY 1 LIVE: 12.35pm-4.20pm – Channel 4 Highlights: 12.35am-1.15am – Channel 4
Clare Balding leads the Channel 4 team on the second day of great racing from the spectacular setting of Cheltenham on Ladies Day.
Today Nicky Henderson’s star chaser Sprinter Sacre hopes to make it eight wins from eight over fences in the Queen Mother Champion Chase.
Can he join the greats of the sport with another scintillating display of jumping?13:30 – John Oaksey National Hunt Chase 14:05 – Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle 14:40 – RSA Chase 15:20 – Sportingbet Queen Mother Champion Chase 16:00 – Coral Cup 16:40 – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle 17:15 – Weatherbys Champion Bumper The Morning Line: 7.55am-8.55am – Channel 4 DAY 2 LIVE: 12.35pm-4.20pm – Channel 4 Highlights: 12.30am-1.15am – Channel 4
A real Irish flavour on day three is guaranteed, as the Festival celebrates St Patrick’s Day a couple of days early.
The racing will be as competitive as ever, with the Ladbrokes World Hurdle and the Ryanair Chase at the centre of attention.
The feature World Hurdle with raiders from both sides of the Irish Sea keen to take the crown of the injured great Big Bucks.13:30 – Jewson Novices’ Chase 14:05 – Pertemps Final 14:40 – Ryanair Chase 15:20 – Ladbrokes World Hurdle 16:00 – Byrne Group Plate 16:40 – Fulke Walwyn Kim Muir Challenge Cup Handicap Chase The Morning Line: 7.55am-8.55am – Channel 4 DAY 3 LIVE: 12.35pm-4.20pm – Channel 4 Highlights: 12.10am-12.55am – Channel 4
The climax of the entire Jump racing season is the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup, the highlight of arguably the best day’s racing of the year, with an atmosphere to match.
Channel 4 has all the gripping drama and excitement from the final day of this year’s Festival, featuring the Gold Cup, a race that’s worth over half a million pounds in prize money.
Can Long Run and his amateur jockey Sam Waley-Cohen reclaim the prize they won two years ago?
Or will a new champion emerge from second season chasers such as Bobs Worth, Silviniaco Conti and Sir Des Champs?
History beckons for one chasing star.13:30 – JCB Triumph Hurdle 14:05 – Vincent O’Brien County Handicap Hurdle 14:40 – Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle 15:20 – Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup 16:00 – CGA Foxhunter Chase Challenge Cup 16:40 – Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys’ Handicap Hurdle 17:15 – Johnny Henderson Grand Annual Chase The Morning Line: 8.00am-9.00am – Channel 4 DAY 4 LIVE: 12.35pm-4.20pm – Channel 4 Gold Cup Re-Run: 7.55pm-8.00pm – Channel 4 Highlights: 1.25am-2.10am – Channel 4 . .