ITV agrees deal to cover Irish horse racing

UK commercial broadcaster ITV has struck a deal to show live coverage of tomorrow’s (Saturday’s) Irish horse-racing meet in Thurles.

While the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) earlier this week suspended all events due to the Covid-19 outbreak, Horse Racing Ireland is staging one race meeting each day from today (Friday) and ITV has agreed a late deal to cover the action from Thurles.

ITV will broadcast five races from Thurles, with a show to run on ITV4 from 1:30-4pm. The show will be presented by regular anchor Ed Chamberlin and produced in the UK with the “smallest possible team”.

The show will also look back on last week’s Cheltenham Festival and the 2019-20 jumps season.

Horse Racing Ireland announced on Wednesday that race fixtures would continue behind closed doors with no runners from overseas. The meetings will be held in strict adherence to government guidelines regarding Covid-19.

Horse Racing Ireland said in a statement: “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.”

ITV has held exclusive free-to-air rights to British horse racing since the start of 2017. Its four-year deal for rights expires at the end of 2020.