No Home for Holt on ITV Racing

No home for Holt on ITV Racing

The new presentation team for ITV Racing is taking shape and today Richard Hoiles was announced as their first choice commentator.

It means his some time colleague Simon Holt has been overlooked by ITV, who take over the contract to cover racing on free-to-air television from January 2017.

Richard Hoiles was not their first choice. That was John Hunt, but the BBC commentator declined the advances from ITV. So the broadcaster turned to the much respected Richard Hoiles, a safe pair of hands in the commentary box and a man who I have also enjoyed watching when appearing on the sofa for the Channel 4 Saturday morning show, The Morning Line.

Head of ITV Sport Niall Sloane has had to make some tough choices when it comes to deciding which former Channel 4 faces should make the move to ITV. He’s decided the excellent commentator Simon Holt is not someone they want to use. Understandably, the mild mannered Holt is disappointed at that decision.

ITV Racing will not employ Simon Holt

Simon Holt

Holt said: “I had the call on Monday morning from Niall Sloane saying that there was nothing wrong with my commentating but I was too linked to Channel 4 to their liking. They wanted to have a new sound I guess.

“I am in a similar situation to Nick really, being so identifiable with Channel 4 having been with them for over 20 years – they just felt they wanted a break.

“I was kind of half expecting it. I have had a very good run. I have called some fantastic races over the years and I am very proud of all of that.

“I am sure I would have done a very good job for them. I said to Niall I wouldn’t have been too proud to take the second job. I just would have liked to have been part of the team and enjoyed being part of that new challenge.

“I think they had made up their mind quite a while ago. They might have told me a little earlier because I don’t think they had any intention of using me. They were courting John Hunt and when he declined I don’t think I was on the shortlist even then.”

Holt is right that he should have been told earlier if, as he believes, he was never part of the plan going forward. His achievements behind a microphone warranted greater respect. The “too identifiable with Channel 4” line is just an excuse. A mealy-mouthed way of letting him down gently. Are not Mick Fitzgerald and Rishi Persad now readily associated by the viewer with Channel 4? It’s true that both have worked for the BBC in years past, and that Rishi still does report on other sports for the BBC, but most racing viewers will consider them to be Channel 4 Racing stalwarts.

I wish Richard Hoiles well. I like the fella and I enjoy his commentaries. He knows he wasn’t the first choice but has accepted the role regardless. And all credit to Simon Holt for being prepared to be number 2 to Hoiles. But it is not to be.

The appointment of Ed Chamberlin as the chief ITV Racing presenter is a positive booking. Personally, I despair that ITV have given Matt Chapman a prominent role and he will likely lead to me switching off.

But the biggest problem for ITV Sport will not so much be the presentation team. It will be that so few days of racing will be aired on ITV1. They will be the high profile feature meetings. The remaining fixtures will be transmitted at the home of repeats of ‘Minder’ and ‘The Sweeney.’

How many people bother to tune to ITV4 to watch racing on terrestrial television remains to be seen.


  1. Eddie duncan 3 years ago

    Don’t kid yourself ,your coverage is now rubbish x fan !!!

    • Eddie duncan 3 years ago

      That is moderation !!!

  2. Elaine French 3 years ago

    First time I have seen these comments sadly I don’t think Channel 4 will return to racing I agree ITV. Coverage poor and desperately dull and of course Simon Holt irreplaceable!

  3. Kim 3 years ago

    ITV’s presentation is amateurish and boring. They keep trying to crack jokes and make the programme funny but are failing miserably. Everything is OTT and almost embarrassing. Oh for the good old days of Francome Holt and Down. Matt Chapman is borish loud and irritating. Who on earth thinks he is entertaining? No one on the planet is better than Simon Holt. His commentaries on Cheltenham and the Kauto/Denman clashes were second to none. I fear ITV may be knocking a few nails in to the coffin of horse racing.

  4. Anonymous 4 years ago

    bring back holt, and the rest of the team ,racing is rubbish without them, its lost its excitement and class …

  5. Norman 4 years ago

    Simon holt is a class act and should in my view still be commentating . As for the rest of the ITV team they do not inspire me other than AP and Mick Fitzgerald.

  6. Robert Edwards 4 years ago

    Still find ITV racing bland. Simon Holt is the best commentator currently. The racing lacks the excellent sanguine coverage of Simon Holt. Presenters and delivery is not a patch on c4.

    • Author
      Vern 4 years ago

      Agreed. Coverage leaves me cold. No atmos for the races and Simon Holt much missed. Vernon

    • Sue 4 years ago

      Couldn’t agree more. Simon Holt is in my view the best commentator since Peter O’Sullivan. Just joined RUK because the only NOT previous CH4 racing presenter on the ITV team who doesn’t get on my nerves is Ed Chamberlain.

      • Author
        Vern 4 years ago

        Agree Sue. Holt being much missed and don’t blame you for joining Racing UK. While working on the next day tips I also enjoyed
        listening to the Radio 5 Live coverage from Cheltenham. The content between the races was very good and benefited from having
        John Francome, Derek Thompson and Lizzie Kelly as part of the team. For the races itself I watched the ITV pictures but turned down
        the volume and listened instead to the commentary on radio by the very good John Hunt – the man who rejected the offer made to
        him by ITV Racing.

  7. Michael 4 years ago

    As a longtime racing fan, to go from the Beeb then to C4 and now down to ITV, is a shock and disappointment. Hopefully C4 will return?

    I miss Nick Luck and Simon Holt and Emma Spencer. Those were the days!

    I hardly ever missed ‘The Morning Line’. But this replacement ‘The Opening Show’ is a tepid lightweight replacement. I now usually turn it off and pursue more worthwhile pursuits. Like reading The Racing Post.

    Sad days

  8. Terry Clarke 4 years ago

    Actually i enjoy matt chapmans as betting presenter a bit of john mac there, good tv, tania stevenson was never comfortale with the job. as for the rest its cheap, no class, no emma spencer, or clare balding. Hoyles is ok but simon holt is as good as they come, big miss, they appear to cutting costs, i bet their wage bill is consirable less. We miss the bbc big time, ITV sports coverage has always been average not in the same class os 4 and the beeb.
    Terry Clarke

  9. seamus mc grath 4 years ago

    simon holt m[les better than anyone at this
    job . ITv made a massive blunder

    • Author
      Vern 4 years ago

      I agree Seamus. Richard Hoiles a good man and a good commentator in his own right. But Simon Holt in a different league.

  10. BERNARD BARKER 4 years ago


  11. Anonymous 4 years ago

    Have just watched ITV racing. Oh what a farce. Ap maccoy looked freezing cold and more uncomfortable as the programme continued. Matt Chapman certainly put me off. He seemed OTT and childish, and certainly by the look on ap’s face his comments were not appreciated. The broadcast looked cheap and tacky. Couldn’t ITV afford better broadcasting conditions? All presenters looked cold, wet and miserable under 2 very inadequate umbrella’s. Is this the state of things to come? They are supposed to be the new face of racing! What a joke

  12. Alastair Warrington 4 years ago

    While Richard Hoiles is a good commentator, we do not consider him to be in the same league as Simon Holt who is the best since Sir Peter O’Sullevan. Why dump an acknowledged maestro who still seems to want the job ?
    Alastair and Sarah Warrington

    • Author
      Vern 4 years ago

      I agree. It remains a mystery.

  13. Janet Bates 4 years ago

    I am so very sorry to learn and watch Channel 4’s last day of horse racing.
    How sad for those great presenters on Channel 4. I have enjoyed listening to them all, especially Nick Luck.
    What a sad day for all us Channel 4 Racing enthusiasts.

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