UK horse racing pay-television broadcaster Racing UK has said it will provide free-to-air coverage of the New Year’s Eve fixture at Newbury racecourse, alongside action from Warwick, following commercial broadcaster Channel 4’s decision to withdraw the fixture from its schedule.
Earlier this month, Channel 4 said it would end its coverage of British horse racing four days before rival commercial broadcaster ITV becomes the exclusive free-to-air home of the sport on January 1.
Channel 4 will end its coverage on December 27 with the Welsh Grand National from Chepstow and Kempton’s Christmas Festival. As a result, the New Year’s Eve meetings at Newbury and Lingfield were set to be without free-to-air coverage.
However, Racing UK has now stepped in stating the Newbury card, which is headlined by the Grade 1 Challow Hurdle, plus seven races from Warwick, will be free to watch via its television channel and live streamed on its website.
Nick Mills, commercial director at Racing UK, said: “Racing UK is keen to ensure Newbury racecourse and its sponsor Betfred receive the coverage and audience such a high-profile card merits.”
Channel 4 had cited “logistical problems” in handing over broadcast equipment to ITV as its reason for taking the decision. In January, ITV struck a four-year deal, from 2017 to 2020, to dislodge Channel 4 as the free-to-air home of British horse racing.
The December 27 meetings will bring to an end Channel 4’s 32-year association with the sport.