ITV Racing's one million viewers show that racing is more than holding its own against other sports

Amongst all the gloom and doom in racing, photo-finishes blurred by the dark, hurdles missed in error, jockeys forgetting to weigh in, it seems there are a few shafts of light after ITV racing recorded a peak of over a million viewers for the second Saturday in succession. Of course some of that is attributable to a captive audience courtesy of the current lockdown and, in the case of the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, a foul afternoon of weather and, on a blank weekend for domestic football, few sporting alternatives also encouraged people to watch racing. However that does not explain Saturday’s audience for Haydock and Ascot where small fields, traditionally a turn off, prevailed. It was up against Premier League football, England playing Ireland at rugby and tennis and the weather was fine everywhere – except Haydock. The average audience was up by over 200,000 on last year. “A million is the holy grail,” said ITV racing presenter Ed Chamberlin. “I think it’s the power of jump racing. What we (racing) need to do is convert this interest into going racing when we can and getting involved, for example, in syndicates.” Saturday’s peak came during the Betfair Stayers Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in which Main Fact, one of the unexpected stars of 2020, notched up his ninth straight win (over jumps and on the flat.)

ITV Racing's one million viewers show that racing is more than holding its own against other sports

Amongst all the gloom and doom in racing, photo-finishes blurred by the dark, hurdles missed in error, jockeys forgetting to weigh in, it seems there are a few shafts of light after ITV racing recorded a peak of over a million viewers for the second Saturday in succession. Of course some of that is attributable to a captive audience courtesy of the current lockdown and, in the case of the Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham, a foul afternoon of weather and, on a blank weekend for domestic football, few sporting alternatives also encouraged people to watch racing. However that does not explain Saturday’s audience for Haydock and Ascot where small fields, traditionally a turn off, prevailed. It was up against Premier League football, England playing Ireland at rugby and tennis and the weather was fine everywhere – except Haydock. The average audience was up by over 200,000 on last year. “A million is the holy grail,” said ITV racing presenter Ed Chamberlin. “I think it’s the power of jump racing. What we (racing) need to do is convert this interest into going racing when we can and getting involved, for example, in syndicates.” Saturday’s peak came during the Betfair Stayers Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in which Main Fact, one of the unexpected stars of 2020, notched up his ninth straight win (over jumps and on the flat.)