ITV Agree Deal to Air New British Horse Racing Docuseries


British horse racing’s principal broadcast partner ITV has agreed a deal to air an exciting six-part series that will focus on a key part of the National Hunt season.

Independent company South Shore have been engaged to produce a series which British racing’s leaders hope will mirror the success of other sports docuseries.

Formula 1’s ‘Drive to Survive’ was a massive hit on Netflix, giving fans unique insights into one of the most exciting andglamorous sports in the world.

Horse racing in other jurisdictions has also benefitted from similar projects, with Australia undoubtedly one of the most noteworthy recent examples.

The Daily Telegraph’s six-part series ‘The Race’ offered viewers an in-depth look at the inner workings of the richest race on turf – The Everest.

The $20 million event is the feature race of the Syndey Spring Carnival at Randwick Racecourse and generates massive interest in online betting circles.

First staged in 2017, the sprint race has garnered global headlines for Australian horse racing which were fuelled further by the television series.

With insights from jockeys, trainers, owners, bookmakers and more, ‘The Race’ shone a light on the effort that goes into making a major horse racing event in Australia so successful.

British racing will hope to follow Australia’s example with its series, which has been commercially backed by international sports betting and gambling company Flutter.

The firm operates a plethora of successful brands in the United Kingdom, Ireland and United States, while it also has a strong presence in the Australian market.

The National Trainers Federation and Professional Jockeys Association have agreed to support the project, while the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) will also be heavily involved.

Filming for the series will begin at Kempton Park on Boxing Day and will continue through to the major festivals at Cheltenham and Aintree next year.

The series – provisionally titled ‘Champions’ – will be aired in the prestigious 9.00 pm slot on ITV1 next summer, which should ensure it garners excellent viewing figures.

“This is an extremely exciting development for the sport,”BHA chief executive Julie Harrington said.

“The industry’s strategy is all about reaching new audiences and showing them the brilliance of our sport while at the same time making racing more interesting and engaging for our current fans.

“There promises to be a little bit of something for everyone in this new programme. We’re proud of our sport and all it stands for. Anything that brings the passion and excitement of racing and the characters who work in it into people’s homes can only be a good thing.”

Casting for the series is already underway and will likely focus on some of the sport’s lesser-known people who have interesting stories to tell.

While there is guaranteed to be a sprinkling of star personalities the public are familiar with, South Shore are eager to offer a platform to the individuals who really make the industry tick.

Having regained the rights to broadcast British horse racing from Channel 4 from January 2017, ITV have been widely praised for its innovative coverage of the sport.

Their current rights deal runs until the end of 2026 and it would be a major surprise if the British racing industry opted to not to extend the partnership beyond that date.

Flutter has been pushing for this type of docuseries for some time now, and will benefit massively from its involvement as an advertiser and funder for the project.

The upcoming series is another feather in the cap for Racecourse Media Group (RMG) Chief Executive Officer Martin Stevenson, who has played a key role in boosting horse racing’s profile since his appointment in 2021.

RMG – the media and data rights holding company for the leading racecourses in the United Kingdom and Ireland – has delivered numerous innovations over the past couple of years and the new series further demonstrates the organisation’scommitment to promoting the sport.

“We firmly believe a docuseries like this on a major channel can significantly help grow participation in the sport,” Stevenson said. “We’re very grateful to Flutter for its invaluable support in making the series possible and ITV’s wholehearted support.

“ITV has been a fantastic partner for racing and this docuseries is further evidence of its commitment to the sport.”‍

If the series proves to be a hit with ITV viewers, it will likely be marketed to other major international racing jurisdictions including the US and Australia.