Clare Balding switches channel as racing secures new TV deal


Few of the medal winners she has introduced over the past couple of weeks have gained greater plaudits for their Olympic performance than Clare Balding. There will be corresponding satisfaction on her home turf, then, that she is now to follow its best sport to Channel 4. It is almost as though a new, exclusive terrestrial contract for the cream of British racing could not properly match its remit without her.

The BBC, having run down its racing coverage over recent years, earlier this year finally surrendered the last glittering kernel – including Aintree, Ascot and Epsom – to Channel 4, for a minimum of four years from January. But the lead presenter will remain unchanged, following the announcement yesterday that Balding has signed a deal that will also install her as anchor of Channel 4's coverage of the Paralympics. The contract is not exclusive, enabling her to maintain a diversifying portfolio with the BBC.

The production contract for the sport's new coverage has , meanwhile, been won by IMG Sports Media, beating off competition from Channel 4 Racing's longstanding partner, Highflyer Productions, and Sunset+Vine, praised for its innovative coverage when Channel 4 obtained Test cricket rights. As a result another seasoned pair of hands will be joining Balding, Carl Hicks having joined IMG Sports Media as executive producer after editing BBC coverage of nine Grand Nationals prior to its Olympics coverage.

Significantly, a parallel, four-year extension has also been confirmed in the Dubai sponsorship package credited, since 2008, with keeping any racing at all on Channel 4 – even as the BBC lost interest.

Jamie Aitchison, sports editor of Channel 4, hailed Balding's arrival as a coup. "Quite simply, Clare is the sports broadcaster of her era," he said. "For her to be heading up our coverage across the year is extremely exciting." Balding herself offered a suitably decorous response. "Racing is my 'home' sport, and I am delighted I will still be part of its coverage on TV," she said. "I am excited by Channel 4's plans and the way in which they have committed to expanding the profile of jockeys, trainers and horses."

One of those jockeys, Johnny Murtagh, will see a specialist tomorrow after scans yesterday confirmed he had fractured his jaw in a parade ring accident at the Curragh on Sunday.

Turf account


Penang Pegasus (3.50 Ayr) Resumed his progress by staying on over an inadequate trip on only his sixth start.

Next best

Alpine Mysteries (2.10 Wolverhampton) Has been allotted a modest rating after learning the ropes in three maiden spins.

One to watch

Alnawiyah (John Dunlop) Shaped nicely on her debut over what will prove a minimum distance at Newmarket.

Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThe ZX Spectrum is going back on sale - with all your favourite retro games
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk