A leading horseracing trainer has called for ITV to reduce the focus on betting when it takes over coverage of the sport from the start of 2017.
The UK free-to-air broadcaster will show key events such as the Cheltenham Festival, the Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree and the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom Downs.
Total turnover for horseracing betting in the UK was £5.0 billion (€5.9 billion / $6.6 billion) between October 2014 and September 2015, according to statistics published by the Gambling Commission.
However, trainer Mark Johnston, who has won the Ascot Gold Cup three times, told the Racing Post newspaper: “They should get rid of all the coverage of betting. I totally understand the relationship between racing and betting, but the coverage is ridiculous and it's bad for both industries.
“You can watch hours of football coverage on television and never hear betting mentioned once, but millions of people do bet on football because they have an opinion on it. Racing's viewers are encouraged to listen to other people's opinions, tips basically.”
However, leading pundit John McCririck believes betting coverage is “absolutely essential” and part of the “drama” of the sport, as well as the source of much revenue for racing.
He told Racing UK: “Where would racing be without betting? I reckon 95% of people who either go racing or watch it on television have had a bet. They don't bet on every race, of course not, but betting is an integral part of the sport and you can't cover racing without covering betting.”
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