Channel 4 loses rights to British racing to ITV

Pineau de Re ridden by Leighton Aspell wins the 2014 Aintree Grand National

Pineau de Re ridden by Leighton Aspell wins the 2014 Aintree Grand National

ITV has signed a four-year deal to become the exclusive terrestrial broadcast partner for British racing from 2017, replacing Channel 4.

Having won the tender process, ITV will begin broadcasting from Cheltenham's New Year's Day fixture on January 1. Channel 4's last broadcast will be of the Betfred Challow Hurdle meeting at Newbury on December 31.

Channel 4 said it wished racing "all the best from 2017".

ITV is committed to showing nearly 100 days of racing each year, with the Cheltenham Festival, the Crabbie's Grand National meeting at Aintree, the Investec Derby at Epsom and Royal Ascot among the marquee events that will be shown on the main ITV channel.

In total ITV will show a minimum of 34 fixtures on ITV's main channel and 60 on ITV4, in addition to a magazine programme broadcast each Saturday morning on ITV4, replacing the current Channel 4 version 'The Morning Line'.

Richard Fitzgerald, chief executive of Racecourse Media Group (RMG), who headed racing's negotiating team, which included UK racecourses and British Champions Series, said: "ITV has made a strong and compelling four-year commitment to British horseracing. ITV places itself at the heart of popular culture and we look forward to working closely with the broadcaster in ensuring racing remains in this fantastic shop window.

"This is a great opportunity for everyone in the industry to support ITV in jointly promoting the sport and telling the stories throughout the year to as wide an audience as possible. The unprecedented level of interest in the tender shows what an attractive proposition the sport is. This is reflected in the new deal, which will generate increased revenues for racing.

"We would like to thank Channel 4 for the huge support they have given horse racing over the years, and particularly their investment in coverage over the last three years.

"Channel 4 has been a fantastic partner for British racing and we look forward to continuing to work together in delivering a captivating and enthralling year ahead."

Channel 4 itself acquired exclusive broadcast rights in 2013, meaning showcase events such as Royal Ascot and the Derby moved from the BBC.

Much has been made of viewing figures for the sport on Channel 4, which will show Formula One motor racing this year after the BBC cut short its contract.

Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport, said: "ITV is delighted to be the home of British horse racing from 2017 and we are thrilled that the sport has chosen us to be their partners.

"ITV and ITV4 will showcase more than 90 days of races, which include some of the best days in the British sporting calendar and we want our coverage to reach not only its loyal, core audience, but beyond, by capturing the full enjoyment of this most wonderful of sports."

ITV has an historical link with racing, going back to the days of the 'ITV Seven' bet, a key component of the Saturday afternoon 'World of Sport' programme.

ITV's coverage moved to Channel 4 in 1985, together with well-known presenters such as Derek Thompson and John McCririck.

The sport has two dedicated channels in Racing UK and At The Races.

Power out as Phil Taylor is beaten at World Darts Championship

16-time champion Phil Taylor walks off stage after his quarter-final exit

16-time champion Phil Taylor walks off stage after his quarter-final exit

Jelle Klaasen stunned world number three Phil Taylor to book a place in the quarter-finals of the PDC World Championship.

Having earlier missed the chance to move 3-1 ahead, Dutchman Klaasen had one dart to hit double 18 and knock out the 16-time World Champion but he missed and Taylor took advantage to tie things up at 3-3.

Taylor looked in charge of the deciding set as he moved two legs ahead, but the world number 19 was not done and roared back to win the tie-break 4-2 and claim a 4-3 victory to set up a clash with Alan Norris, whose fairytale Alexandra Palace debut continued earlier in the day as he saw off Mark Webster in five sets.

Klaasen told Sky Sports 3: "I almost gave that away. You know you can't miss against Phil.

"I never gave up and I still felt I could win the game so I'm over the moon."

After praising Klaasen for his performance, Taylor said: "Do you want me to be honest? I'm not fit enough, I'm not mentally right.

"I've got over this year now. I'm getting divorced in February – it's well publicised – so next year I can push on."

Peter Wright won an incredible seven-set thriller in a dramatic tie-break at the expense of Dave Chisnall to book his place in the last eight.

Last year's runner-up, who will now face double world champion Adrian Lewis, eventually took the final set 6-4 after Chisnall had missed a dart for the match.

Wright hit 14 180s and had an average of 103.69, while Chisnall had nine maximums with an average of 102.26 and hit a 160 finish in the third set.

In the decider, Chisnall missed double 16 to win the match 4-2, allowing Wright to draw level at 3-3 but the final set went to 10 legs, with Wright landing a double six to progress.

There will be no play on December 31, with the quarter-finals being held on New Year's Day across two sessions.

Nichols Canyon wins Ryanair Hurdle for Willie Mullins

Ruby Walsh drives Nichols Canyon to victory at Leopardstown

Ruby Walsh drives Nichols Canyon to victory at Leopardstown

Nichols Canyon, trained by Willie Mullins and ridden by Ruby Walsh, won the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown.

The now-retired Hurricane Fly won four of the previous five renewals of this race but for much of the home straight Nichols Canyon looked like coming off second best.

Henry de Bromhead's Identity Thief proved his win in the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle was no fluke as he cruised into the lead before the final flight.

Bryan Cooper got a great leap out of Identity Thief, which appeared to seal victory, but Ruby Walsh threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Nichols Canyon.

The Willie Mullins-trained 2-5 favourite began to eat into the gap and eventually got on top to win going away by two lengths.

Nichols Canyon was winning a sixth Grade One from just nine starts over hurdles.

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