Leading trainer Ger Lyons took to Twitter yesterday to call for owners, trainers, and jockeys to withhold media access until the latest issue in the transition of Irish racing from Attheraces to Racing TV is resolved.
In the past couple of days, it became apparent that video archives for Irish races — an essential tool for many within the industry and as a form guide for punters — prior to January 1, when the switchover occurred, were no longer accessible on ATR, the Racing Post website or any of the other sites on which they were previously available.
Taking to his Twitter account, which has more than 17,000 followers, Lyons said:
“I accepted every interview etc with @AtTheRaces and you reward me by taking away my access to replays. This is petty & shortsighted and unnecessary. Surely as thanks for all our previous support you can reverse this decision? It’s a long road.”
A couple of hours later, Lyons added: “I’m being told (rightly or wrongly) that it’s RUK/HRI that have caused this loss of replays. If this is so then all players(Owner , jockeys, trainers) need to withhold all access until this situation is rectified. We can’t be pawns in their fights.”
The switch from ATR to Racing TV was never likely to be an entirely smooth transition and the opening day presented an immediate problem, with six meetings to be shown, two of which were Irish.
Social media reaction was unforgiving, some suggesting the channel couldn’t cope with Irish and UK racing on the busy day, while others bemoaned the lack of build-up to the races.
But Lyons was one of the first to call for balance, and to give the new medium a chance. Speaking to the Racing Post, he said: “I watched it all and it was like being in a betting shop as there was too much racing on, but I wouldn’t be in a rush to criticise at such an early juncture.
“Racing TV were very professional and time will tell. It’s like everything, people don’t like change, but cleverer people than me have gotten us into this and only time will tell who was right and who was wrong. Give it a chance and let’s see how it shapes up.”
On Wednesday another trainer and similarly forthright character, Denis Coakley, had taken to his Twitter account to offer his opinion regarding the replays, saying:
In a later tweet, Coakley added: … “ownership of archives/payment clearly the issue and RTV and SSR are rivals.
“HRI should have ensured it was contractual obligation that access to archive footage be maintained or else it passed to the next rights owner. SIS ultimate owner of rights for last few years.”
Responding to the question of due diligence before the deal was signed, Coakley replied: “The level of incompetence behind this is breathtaking.
“All of this was predictable and should have been covered in contract clauses. It seems HRI just sold Media Rights without any risk-analysis or consideration as to what coverage needed to be guaranteed.”
Seb Vance, Racecourse Media Group and Racing UK Director of PR & Comms, responded to Coakley to say full replays from January 1 would soon be available to non-members, while Racing TV responded to Lyons’ raised concerns, through its official Twitter account, @RacingTV, saying:
“Hi Ger, we recognise that it’s frustrating that there is currently no Irish archive available prior to January 1. Discussions with the various parties are ongoing and we are working on trying to resolve the situation by the end of the month.
“We will keep people updated.”