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Monday, 10 December, 2018

Jockeys call for clarity on scheduling following Irish racing's shock RUK switch

Andrew Coonan: Irish Jockeys Association secretary has particular concerns over scheduling
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Irish Jockeys Association secretary Andrew Coonan has expressed disappointment on behalf of his members that they and other stakeholders were not consulted during the negotiations that have led to At The Races being replaced by Racing UK as the main broadcaster of Irish racing from next year.

Over the past week, high-profile owners, trainers and industry figures have expressed strong reservations about how the move to RUK will affect the exposure of Irish racing.

The IJA has added its voice to those misgivings, pointing to the logistical issues that might arise out of RUK having an extra 363 fixtures to fit into its programming schedule in 2019, and saying it would welcome a chance to speak with the broadcaster.

“What is reflective of the concern is that some of the senior riders have voiced apprehensions about how this would work into the future and how it might impact on them, and I haven't been able to assuage those concerns or calm any anxiety they may have,” said Coonan.

“Anything that's going to enhance the value of the racing product is going to benefit riders, but this deal, at this point in time, lacks the clarity, or any degree of certainty with regard to scheduling, and that could create problems for riders here.”

He continued: “The issues particularly in regard to scheduling I don’t think have been sufficiently clarified for us to have confidence with regard to how this will work come January 1, 2019.

"The function of broadcasting Irish racing is extremely important to not just those within the industry but to those looking in from the outside as well.

"One would have thought that, while this discussion was taking place, which in many respects is purely financial, negotiations with other parties involved, including jockeys, needs to also take place.

"I think a lot of stakeholders are still in the dark as to how this is going to work, and for us how that relationship between jockeys and Racing UK will work and develop.

"I'd welcome the opportunity to have that discussion, but it hasn’t happened yet. That isn't an ideal situation in an industry that is worth what it is with the amount of stakeholders involved in it."

Coonan added: "We don’t necessarily think this is a bad deal for racing, but I don’t think anybody has been provided with the clarity that's needed as a result of the press releases on Tuesday and discussions which have taken place."

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I think a lot of stakeholders are still very much in the dark as to how this is going to work
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