UK broadcaster ITV has penned a last minute deal which secures its channels with live coverage of Saturday’s Irish horse-racing event in Thurles.
The announcement follows on from news that Horseracing Ireland (HRI) would continue its race fixtures behind closed doors for the foreseeable future amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The company will broadcast five races on ITV4 with the show being presented by Ed Chamberlin alongside a small team in order to comply with government regulations.
Regarding the decision to continue the races, a HRI spokesperson stated: “The decision is motivated by the need to maintain employment and incomes for people working in the industry, and on the basis of being able to achieve and maintain all HSE (Health Service Executive) advice and instructions.”
The news will also be a welcome boost to bookmakers and punters as the betting industry has struggled to adapt to the lack of live-sport offerings.
Simon Clare, Ladbrokes Coral PR director, explained: “This is really good news from ITV Racing for all racing fans, bookmakers, and anyone who enjoys a flutter on a Saturday afternoon, as in the absence of any other major sports and football, or UK racing, this live broadcast of Thurles will be like an oasis in the desert.
“These are unprecedented, worrying times, and the impact and seriousness goes way beyond the world of racing and betting, but the importance of keeping at least some of the show on the road through these dark times cannot be underestimated, to provide entertainment to many people and keep business ticking over.
It has yet to be announced whether after this weekend’s events HRI will follow in the footsteps of the British Horseracing Authority’s (BHA), one of ITV Racing’s primary customers, when the authority suspended all events due to the Covid-19 outbreak.