RTÉ’s decision to increase its exposure of Irish racing with a series of one-hour shows every weekend has provided racecourses with a welcome boost in light of protocols restricting any crowds from attending race meetings.
A peak of 47,000 people tuned in to watch Lemista win the Listed Victor McCalmont Stakes at Gowran Park last Friday night. The action at Naas peaked at 66,000 the following day while 56,000 was the highest figure recorded for action at Leopardstown on Sunday.
Officials from RTÉ were also positive about figures for the two Irish Guineas fixtures. An average of 83,400 watched the coverage of the 2000 Guineas card on Friday evening June 12th, which is just short of a doubling of the average figure for the previous five years which was 42,000.
The average for the Irish 1000 Guineas card the following day was 97,000, peaking at 150,000. Again, this average compared favourably with the previous five-year average of 74,000.
Fergus McCormack, press officer for RTÉ, said: “The figures for the meetings last weekend need a bit of context as it’s very difficult to compare the viewing figures we’re currently seeing with any of our ‘normal’ racing figures as the programmes are shorter and from some tracks that we don’t normally visit like Naas and Gowran Park.
“It is also evident that flat racing is not as popular as National Hunt racing in Ireland for whatever cultural reasons. That said, the figures are encouraging, particularly the Guineas weekend, and we look forward to bringing viewers racing from Navan, Cork, Bellewstown and Kilbeggan as well as the Curragh, Fairyhouse and Galway over the coming weeks.”
RTÉ again hosted an hour-long show of racing at the Curragh yesterday evening. The state broadcaster has two-hour shows planned for the Irish Derby today (coverage starts at 6pm) and the Pretty Polly Stakes on Sunday (3pm).