Frankie Dettori and Victoria Pendleton are among the names added to ITV’s racing line-up as the channel prepares to start its coverage next year.
Dettori, arguably the most well-known name in flat racing, will be a regular contributor working around his riding commitments.
Olympic gold-medal winning cyclist Victoria Pendleton will bring her perspective to the channel’s coverage following her successful switch to amateur rider which saw her compete at the Cheltenham Festival.
ITV revealed its full team of key presenting, reporting, commentating and on-screen expert roles as it gears up to its first broadcast from Cheltenham on New Year’s Day.
Oli Bell will present ITV’s weekly racing morning magazine show and Richard Hoiles will be the lead commentator, joined in the commentary box by Mark Johnson.
Bell said: “I am hugely excited about this opportunity and am really looking forward to fronting the Saturday morning magazine show.
“I am hugely passionate about the sport and will look forward to the afternoon’s action every bit as much as the viewers at home and I hope to share that enthusiasm with them.
“I can’t wait to kick on now and work closely with the excellent team that ITV have assembled both on screen and behind the camera.”
Hoiles, who replaces Channel 4’s Simon Holt, said: “It is a fantastic opportunity to be part of the ITV team and have the privilege of calling the superb array of big races we will be covering next year.
“Racing is a unique sport that offers beauty and drama in abundance and hopefully we can really bring that to life for the viewers whether they be ardent fans or new to the sport.”
Experts on the team include Hayley Turner, Mick Fitzgerald, Jason Weaver, Luke Harvey and Brian Gleeson.
Turner, who retired from professional race-riding last year, said: “We hope to give viewers an enjoyable ride, giving them a close insight into the world of racing with plenty of laughs along the way.
“For me, this opportunity is a new chapter, having recently retired from race-riding, so I’m looking forward to getting to grips with the role with this talented new team.”
Grand National-winning rider Fitzgerald said: “I’ve spent most of my life in racing, so I’m relishing the prospect of being part of ITV’s coverage from next year and sharing with viewers the unrivalled excitement and entertainment this sport offers.”
Brough Scott will also appear as a regular guest offering his insight 30 years on from when he presented ITV’s racing coverage.
Alice Plunkett, Rishi Persad and Sally-Ann Grassick all have reporting roles, while Lucy Verasamy will provide reports on the weather.
The new appointments follow the announcements earlier this year of Ed Chamberlin as ITV’s main racing presenter and his co-presenter for the Flat season, Francesca Cumani, plus Matt Chapman as betting presenter and reporter.
Chamberlin said: “I’m delighted with the team ITV have put together and really look forward to working with them.
“That line-up, coupled with ITV’s expertise at making sports programmes, is a really exciting prospect. I can’t wait to get started at Cheltenham on January 1.”
Niall Sloane, ITV director of sport, said: “We believe this line-up, which draws on a range of people from within racing and beyond, will enrich our coverage with the quality, expertise, insight and personality to bring home to viewers the full enjoyment and appreciation of this wonderful sport.”
ITV’s exclusive new four-year deal to show UK horse racing on terrestrial television takes effect from the start of 2017, when its free to air coverage will begin.
ITV’s racing coverage will encompass live broadcasts of almost 100 days of racing each year.
Last month, ITV revealed details of its plans to show 41 racing days on the main channel, including the Grand National, the Derby, all the major festivals including Cheltenham and Royal Ascot, the five Classics and Champions Day at Ascot. The remaining days will be broadcast on ITV4.