Updating stakeholders, ITV Racing announced it has signed a last-minute deal that will see it broadcast the Irish horse-racing event in Thurles this Saturday.
The statement comes from reports that in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Horseracing Ireland (HRI) will continue its race fixtures behind closed doors for the near future.
In comply with government requirements, the business will air five races on ITV4, with the series being hosted by Ed Chamberlin with a small team.
As to the decision to start the races, a HRI spokeswoman said: “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 would also send bookmakers and punters a welcome boost as the betting industry has struggled to adjust to the lack of live-sport offerings.
Simon Clare, director of PR at Ladbrokes Coral, 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 is yet to be decided if HRI will follow in the footsteps of the British Horseracing Authority (BHA), one of the key customers of ITV Racing, after the events this weekend, when the authority suspended all activities due to the outbreak of Covid-19.