Support of bookies gives greyhound TV trial fighting chance

This week, after much anticipation, it was revealed that Irish greyhound racing will be shown live in the betting shops from September 1 of this year. 

Support of bookies gives greyhound TV trial fighting chance

The initial phase of the programme is a 12-week trial, in which action will be shown from Curraheen, Youghal and Mullingar.

By the time the pictures go live, the process will have taken the better part of 18 months. There has been quite a lot of effort and co-operation from many different parties to get it to this point, and no doubt it has been a costly exercise.

However, should the trial be successful and the racing prove to be a valuable commodity to the betting companies, the figures involved will be very small and incidental relative to what it may be able to achieve for the industry.

TurfTV is the provider which has made the agreement with the Irish Greyhound Board to take the pictures for the trial. Currently, they have rights to many horse racing meetings in Britain, but this is a new branch for the firm.

In the press release it was good to see that Boylesports and Paddy Power are both on board at this point — that’s something which will give it more chance of working. Powers had a strong association with the sport at one time, bringing the Derby to record prize money under their sponsorship. But that link is no longer strong and it’ll be interesting to see what may happen during and after the trial period.

Given Powers’ continued success, their position in their market as well as their unique and very effective marketing machine, it’s a real shame there isn’t a close tie with greyhound racing in this country.

Boyles, on the other hand, are currently very important sponsors on track and field and, motivated, no doubt, by John Boyle’s interest in the sport, have been making a concerted effort to get more involved in pricing track competitions in recent times.

They have given positive reports of the betting interest in such markets, and let’s hope their involvement in this new venture provides further opportunity for their investment in the sport.

All that said, we should not be naive and assume this 12-week trial will be successful. The real work ought to start now, to ensure the trial earns a long-term contract.

It’s reasonable that many people remain sceptical about the direction the sport is taking but the truth remains that there is no future for some of our tracks unless money comes from somewhere, soon.

Shelbourne Park may be enjoying a real purple patch with attendances at the moment, but that’s not reflected country-wide. There have been some small but positive notes over the past couple of months, one which I noticed very close to home.

There has certainly been an increase in the Tote pools at Youghal track, something which seems to have built up gradually since streaming of live racing from the track began. Of course this is relative, and should be noted as so.

The extra money has come through internet betting and has had exactly the desired knock-on effect, as on-track punters follow in for value. It’s a long way off what one would hope for in a busy environment, but it’s something which, I’m sure, will increase further if the racing is live in the shops and online simultaneously.

COMPRESSION SUITS A GROWING PHENOMENON

Remember the photographs when Aussie thoroughbred sprinting superstar Black Caviar arrived from her native country to take on the best sprinters in Britain and Ireland at Royal Ascot back in 2012?

She was clad in what then looked like a very unusual space suit, tightly wrapped around her as she was brought from the plane. As many of us learnt at that point, it was a compression suit, designed to reduce muscle vibrations and to help keep the animal calm in transit.

Well, anyone who walks through the car park at any of the major greyhound tracks these days will no doubt have noticed a proliferation of such similar suits, only in XXXXS sizes. Compression suits are not new to greyhound racing but they seem to have taken off in recent times, and are now a common sight around the country.

The idea is the same as for horses, and whatever other animals they have been designed to fit. It keeps them calm during journeys to and from the track, and is also often left on during kennelling.

Although I’m sure they won’t be 100% successful for every greyhound, there is no shortage of trainers willing to shell out the £200+ for which they retail.

For bad travellers and kennelers, there are those who swear by them. Something which could be the difference between winning and losing could well be worth a try. Just ask an owner or trainer who has already used them —you won’t have to look too far to find one. Maybe we’ll get to the point when they have to be declared!

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