Racing fans got a pleasant surprise with the unannounced arrival of live action from Wednesday’s Greyville race meeting on the new Racing 240 channel on DStv.
A press release a few hours later revealed that South Africa’s two racing operators – Gold Circle in KwaZulu-Natal and 4Racing in the rest of the country – had reached an “interim agreement” for KZN racing to be aired on 4Racing’s Racing 240.
Until this development, KZN racing from Greyville and Scottsville racecourses was likely to be left out in the cold in terms of TV coverage.
Live television is integral to betting activity, which is the lifeblood of the racing game.
The old racing channel, Tellytrack on channel 249, was closed down at the end of February when a contract with Multichoice expired.
4Racing – which replaced the collapsed Phumelela – struck a deal with the TV company to start Racing 240, but Gold Circle was not included.
This followed a legal dispute between Gold Circle and Phumelela’s business rescue process over ownership shares of Tellytrack.
The racing world has been in despair for months at the apparent inability of the two operators end a stand-off and have KZN meetings carried alongside those at the Highveld’s Turffontein and Vaal courses, Western Cape’s Kenilworth and Durbanville and Eastern Cape’s Fairview.
Gold Circle has set up an internet streaming service called Gallop TV to carry its live pictures to punters, but many without digital access or savvy were not happy.
The lack of unity in racing demonstrated by the TV spat has had fans up in arms – particularly given the precarious state of the industry in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Wednesday’s joint press release added: “The parties are committed to continuing their engagements to conclude an equitable and sustainable long-term agreement for a unified broadcast platform, for the benefit of the South African horseracing industry.”