SKY Sports Racing could make a play for the rights to live Irish racing when they come back on the market.
Matthew Imi, chief executive of ATR, said: “We work in media rights cycles and at some point Irish racing rights will come back on the market and we might be able to have a conversation whenever that happens.”
On losing the rights to show Irish racing next year to Racing TV, he said: “We wish them well. We’ve moved on from then and our focus has very much been this new business, this new channel, ensuring we can populate it with a strong product.
“We have the capability to elevate events across our full range of channels, products and digital platforms, which will ensure we can take racing to a wider audience. We hope this will help to engage the casual racing fan and also attract a younger demographic of audience.”
Imi played down suggestions that Sky Sports Racing is plotting a swoop for broadcast rights to races such as the Grand National on terrestrial television when they come up for renewal in 2020.
He told the Daily Telegraph: “Terrestrial racing has always been an important part of the sport in terms of showcasing to tens of millions of households. So really whether it’s ITV, Channel 4, BBC, we believe that having terrestrial exposure is important ... If the rights come up and the rights-holders are interested in talking to us as potential media partners, that’s a situation we’re in. We are not actively pursuing an agenda. We are very happy with the partners we have got.”
Freddy Tylicki is excited to be a member of the new Sky Sports Racing team. The former jockey, whose career came to an untimely end when he was paralysed in a fall at Kempton in October 2016, is delighted to be working alongside colleagues who will include Luke Harvey, Jason Weaver, Alex Hammond and Matt Chapman.
“I’m delighted to be on board. It’s obviously something new, but I did a couple of gigs even before the accident – Get In for example. People like Luke Harvey and Jason Weaver make you feel at ease and they know what they are talking about. You don’t even know the cameras are there,” said Tylicki.
“I’m very open minded about it all and am looking forward to giving it a go. I’ll try to give my knowledge about what I know to the viewers.”
Weaver, crowned broadcaster of the year at the HWPA Awards earlier this week, cannot wait to use the new innovations that will be available.
He said: “It’s a fantastic set up and I think the slow motion shots of the horses and the ability to use the analysis tools is great. It’s taking the sport forward. That is the absolute key.
“For me it will be exactly the same as it has been for the last two years. I will be working for ITV and I’ve worked for At The Races for 14 years.
“Freddy lives not far from me. We’ve travelled down together today and that will become the norm. He’s not afraid to speak his mind which will be great.”
Hammond, who will be a key presenter, said: “I have a great passion for horse racing. It is something that I started off presenting back in 1998. I’ve been at Sky for 15 years so I’m pleased to say I’m making the move from Sky Sports News, which was a wrench, but I’m very much looking forward to the challenge ahead.”