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May 7, 2020

BY RAY THOMAS – THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

Sydney Saturday racing will be shown live on Channel 7 free-to-air for the next six weeks starting with the Gosford Gold Cup stand-alone meeting at Royal Randwick on Saturday.

Channel Seven’s Sydney racing coverage will complement their broadcasts of Melbourne Saturday racing and the Adelaide and Brisbane carnivals during this period.

The South Australian Derby meeting on Saturday and The Goodwood next week at Morphettville will be shown on Channel 7 then with the completion of the Adelaide carnival, the four weeks of the Brisbane carnival, starting May 23, will become part of the commercial television network’s thoroughbred racing coverage.

Bruce McAvaney, the nation’s most respected sports broadcaster, will lead Seven’s coverage alongside Hamish McLachlan, Henry Dwyer and Katelyn Mallyon.

The landmark free-to-air deal negotiated by Racing NSW, Sky Racing and Channel 7 is significant as it provides greater access to Sydney and interstate racing for punters and race fans while TABs, ClubTAB and PubTAB outlets remain closed during the coronavirus pandemic shutdown.

With Federal and State Governments beginning to ease restrictions and some suggestions that TAB outlets could reopen in June, albeit with strict biosecurity and social distancing protocols, Channel 7’s racing coverage could provide a stimulus to wagering turnover in the interim.

“We felt that right at this moment it would be beneficial to have our races on Channel 7’s free-to-air coverage to give Sydney racing maximum exposure,” Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.

“Over the last few weeks Sky Racing’s coverage of Sydney racing has never been as popular with viewers tuning in to watch Sydney’s autumn carnival in big numbers. We want to ensure punters can continue to access Sydney racing.”

During Seven’s coverage of Randwick, TAB’s Gerard Middleton delivers the latest odds and Sky Thoroughbred Central’s Lizzie Jelfs will provide her pick of the yard.

Stay-at-home punters and sports-starved fans tuned into Sky Racing’s recent Sydney autumn carnival coverage on Foxtel in record numbers.

Sky Racing’s average audiences had risen by nearly 40 per cent during the carnival with almost 300,000 views watching the two days of The Star Championships at Randwick last month, making the Saturday afternoon coverage the most popular program on the entire Foxtel platform, highlighting the obvious demand for Sydney racing during this period where there is so little live sport.

“This deal enables racing fans that can’t currently watch racing because they don’t have Foxtel at home to tune into Channel Seven’s coverage,” Sky Racing’s executive general manager of media Darren Pearce said.

“There is also an opportunity that we can connect with sports fans who want to watch live sport and perhaps they can become new fans of racing.”

TAB’s wagering managing director Adam Rytenskild said the racing industry has “done a phenomenal job in keeping racing going during the COVID-19 shutdown but we know that many punters are missing going to their local TAB.”

“This gives punters another way to watch their favourite racing during this difficult COVID-19 period,” Rystenskild said.

“Full SKY coverage of all race meetings will continue on Foxtel, in the TAB app and Sky Racing Active can also be expanded to your home TV while retail TABs are closed.”

Managing Director Seven Melbourne and Head of Network Sport Lewis Martin said the free-to-air deal is a “huge win for racing fans.”

“Adding Sydney’s races to our coverage over the next six weeks means we’ve got all of Australia’s best racing covered – live and free nationally,” Martin said.

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