Bookmakers’ Afternoon Greyhound Services (BAGS) and SIS have committed to a new schedule for greyhounds on Sky Sports in 2014.
BAGS have, as programme commissioners, worked closely with SIS, Sky schedulers, sponsors and the Greyhound Board of Great Britain to formulate coverage from January to June, comprising of 15 fixtures.
It is another boost for the sport and comes towards the end of a successful year for coverage which, at this time last year, looked as though it would not happen after Sky pulled out of the production.
However, SIS stepped in after discussions with BAGS and together the two parties produced an alternative plan which delivered fewer but more high-profile events, with the added benefit that they would be simulcast into betting shops and on TV.
This agreement has resulted in greyhound racing’s most prestigious events being shown in LBOs, including the William Hill Greyhound Derby, which has already attracted increased prize money of £200,000 after huge interest this year.
BAGS chairman Tom Kelly said: “We have had a positive response from the industry following the coverage this year and are pleased to be in a position to continue this into 2014. Everyone has pulled together again to make this happen and to help provide an exciting mix of competitions in the first six months.”
George Irvine, Managing Director, Betting and International, SIS Betting, was heavily involved in securing an agreement to save the programming at the start of 2013, and commented: “We’re delighted to continue our coverage into 2014. We’ve worked well with BAGS and other stakeholders to get to this point and agree to further coverage on TV and in shops.
“From a standing start we were able to produce top-class broadcasts and ensure greater exposure for greyhound racing, with the prestige events also going to LBOs. The feedback from our customers, who have seen increased activity in their shops, and from all sections of the greyhound industry has been extremely positive.”
The first of the Sky fixtures will take place at Romford on 14th January for the Coral Coronation Cup and the cameras will be at Birmingham on 29th January, when the Local Parking Security Prestige at Hall Green returns to screens.
There are two fixtures in February – at Sheffield on 4th February and a new showcase of action for the North East, the Pinpoint Festival of Racing at Newcastle on 11th February.
The Racing Post Juvenile/Springbok double header will get March off to a flying start at Wimbledon on 4th March and this will be followed by the Trainers’ Championship on 25th March at a venue to be confirmed.
There are also two live-on-Sky fixtures in April, the Pinpoint Arc at Swindon on 16th April and the Coral Regency at Hove on 24th April.
Much to the delight of greyhound fans full coverage of the William Hill Greyhound Derby from the third round onwards will be shown live on Sky. The third round takes place on 17th May on the red button, the quarter-finals on 20th May, the semi-finals on 24th May and the Derby Final itself will be screened live in a special two-and-a-half hour show on 31st May.
There is also plenty on offer in June with three fixtures – on 4th June at a venue to be confirmed, the Betfred Gymcrack at Kinsley on 10th June and the Three Steps at Sheffield on 24th June.
The BAGS fixture list itself is scheduled to be released next week, subject to confirmation.
- Next Tuesday sees the latest high-profile fixture of 2013 screened on Sky Sports and in retail outlets – the William Hill St Leger and RFS Puppy Derby at Wimbledon.