Walsh welcomes 'wonderful opportunity' for Irish racing with RTE coverage
Ruby Walsh believes Irish racing has a "wonderful opportunity" to grow interest in the sport following the news that RTE, Ireland's national broadcaster, will significantly increase its live television coverage of racing this summer.
In addition to broadcasting Tattersalls Irish Guineas weekend (June 12-13) at the Curragh, RTE will produce new one-hour shows every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening for the weeks that follow until July 13.
The additional ten fixtures, which will be live on RTE2 and the RTE Player online, provide Irish racing with the chance to showcase its action to a sport-starved national audience – a move that was welcomed by HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh.
Walsh, who is set to be involved in the coverage along with his father Ted, Hugh Cahill and Jane Mangan, said: "Dedicated racing fans have always had the opportunity to watch racing on pay-per-view channels and when you get racing on a terrestrial channel, it does open the capacity for more people to watch it.
"That has long been proven in the UK. When it is on a mainstream terrestrial channel, people do watch those races."
RTE Racing in June
Friday, June 12 Curragh
Saturday, June 13 Curragh
Friday, June 19 Gowran Park
Saturday, June 20 Naas
Sunday, June 21 Leopardstown
Friday, June 26 Curragh
Saturday, June 27 Curragh
Sunday, June 28 Curragh
He added: "To have racing on there when there's no other sport on is a wonderful opportunity. RTE have the rights to it in Ireland and it's great that they are choosing to show it.
"Racing is a huge industry and the races are the shop window. It is important for the industry that racing is viewed and liked by the general public. It's a big opportunity."
The 12-time Irish champion jump jockey says the timing of the new programmes, which are expected to have a significant studio-based element but could have on-site involvement at the Curragh, is helpful with a view to keeping casual viewers engaged.
In the latest race programmes released by HRI, the feature races on the televised cards are generally positioned towards the end of the fixture.
The Tattersalls Irish 2,000 Guineas will take place at 6.40pm on Friday June 12 and remains the fourth race on the card, but the following day's Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas is the day's penultimate contest at 7.15pm.
Gowran's Listed highlight on Friday 19 June, the Irish Stallion Farms EBF Victor McCalmont Memorial Stakes, is scheduled as the second last race on the card at 6.15pm, while two Listed contests the following afternoon at Naas are the final events on the day, set for 5.15pm and 5.45pm.
"I think the one-hour shows are a good idea because there's nothing worse in any television programme than for it to be boring," said Walsh.
"If you were trying to make two and three-hour racing programmes in Ireland at the moment with a race every 30 or so minutes, there's a lot of time to fill in the middle.
"There will be no people at the racecourses, so there's no colour or glamour. We can't go into yards and do big, long features."
He added: "At least a one-hour show at the end of the cards, with the last couple of races live and the ability to show replays and highlights of what has gone on previously on the day, it should make for an entertaining programme and that's what racing needs to do.
"It needs to entertain the people at home watching. That'll be the challenge and hopefully they'll be able to."
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