Country Racing Victoria has made a passionate plea to Racing Victoria to negotiate a deal with the Seven Network for the final day of the May Racing Carnival to be shown on the free-to-air station.
Country Racing Victoria (CRV) chairman Lance McMillan told The Standard yesterday it was important Victoria’s feature country race date was showcased through Channel 7 after the demise of the industry-owned TVN earlier this month.
“We have asked Racing Victoria (RV) to take up the cause to have the Thursday of the carnival put onto the Channel 7 network,” he said.
“RV understands the urgency of the matter.
“The final day of the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival is the flagship race date for country racing in this state.”
The three-day carnival begins on May 5.
“We want as many people as possible to view the races on the Thursday,” McMillan said.
“Races from the stand- alone Saturday meetings at Bendigo and Mornington over the past two weeks have been on Channel 7, plus races from the Sydney carnival.
“It would be a wonderful result if it can come to fruition. RV’s Andrew Twaits is heading up the media rights for us. I’ve got my fingers crossed a deal can be done.”
Warrnambool Racing Club chairman Des Roberts said the club had asked RV chief executive officer Bernard Saundry two years ago about the final day of the carnival being shown on the free-to-air network.
“It’s got to a desperate stage for us with no more TVN. We have pushed our cause for two years to RV that we should be on Channel 7. The club needs to showcase the Thursday not only for racing but for our sponsors who are great supporters of our carnival,” Roberts said.
“Without being rude to Mornington or Bendigo, the Warrnambool May Racing Carnival is the biggest event in country racing for the year.
“The carnival is the pinnacle of our year and watched all around the world.”
Saundry was unavailable for comment.
A deal between RV and the Seven Network was signed for premium free-to-air coverage over five consecutive Saturdays — March 21 and 28 and April 4, 11 and 18, with coverage of both Sydney and Victorian races.
Seven’s free-to-air coverage of Victorian racing is then scheduled to resume on Memsie Stakes Day in August and continue each weekend until Sandown Guineas Day in November.
Victorian racing has been shown nationwide on Sky Channel One and on Sky Racing World, plus on the Racing Victoria-owned Racing.com which allows customers to view on all devices — desktop, mobile and tablet — for free since the closure of TVN.
TVN, a dedicated thoroughbred channel beamed all Victoria and New South Wales races into homes on the pay-TV network for 10 years before it closed its doors after the New South Wales shareholders in the business split with their Victorian counterparts to take up a deal with the TAB-owned Sky.
The Australian Turf Club in Sydney owned a 50 per cent share in TVN with the three Melbourne-based race clubs — Melbourne Racing Club, Victoria Racing Club and Moonee Valley Racing Club — and Country Racing Victoria, owning the other 50 per cent.