As part of the recently concluded media rights renewal between Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) and media companies, Sports Information Services (SIS) and Racecourse Media Group (RMG), Coursetrack will be rolled out to all Irish courses from January 1, 2024.
The system is operated by RMG’s timing partners, Coursetrack, and involves horses carrying lightweight GPS trackers, designed to fit within the saddlecloth. The trackers connect directly to a centralised operation at Racing TV’s London studios, meaning there is no need for antenna installations on-course. The team in London utilise and monitor both pictures and talkback to ensure accuracy and reliability.
In-race data for all races in Ireland – including race clock, leader’s speed, leader’s time per furlong and distance to finish – will be provided to networks, including RTE and Racing TV, for live broadcasts.
Coursetrack is currently operating on 35 British racecourses, with its data broadcast live by ITV in the UK, Virgin Media in Ireland, and Racing TV in both countries.
In Ireland, Coursetrack data is already in operation at Leopardstown, Dundalk and Fairyhouse, with all 26 racecourses coming on board next year. The service has already won a prestigious Sports Technology Award – “The Oscars of Sports Innovation” – for best use of data.
Suzanne Eade, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “Racecourses in Ireland enter a new media rights environment from January and it is imperative that we ensure there is as much information as possible for those who want to bet on the action on our tracks. The rollout of timing data from Coursetrack will be a key element in that, and I warmly welcome today’s announcement.”
Paul Hensey, CEO of Association of Irish Racecourses, said: “It’s vital that we have a reliable and accurate system, with low latency, which can provide timing information for the benefit of racefans, punters and participants – and Coursetrack provides just that. It is great to see the system in action at Dundalk, Fairyhouse and Leopardstown and we look forward to Coursetrack being rolled out at more tracks as the year progresses.”
Dave Tharp, Managing Director of Coursetrack, said: “We are delighted to be working with HRI and the AIR on this exciting project and delivering our latest GPS technology to all the racecourses throughout the country. This ultra-reliable, low-latency and easy-to-interpret data offers a scientific evaluation of a horse’s performance and serves a valuable tool for analysing a race and for in-running betting.”
Ruby Walsh, former 12-time champion jockey and now RTE, ITV and Racing TV presenter and pundit, said: “Pace is arguably the single most important factor of a horse race – horses generally run best when their energy is used optimally, which means regulating their effort as evenly as possible. Get the pace wrong and you’ll usually get the result wrong. Sectional times are vital for my role as an analyst, especially in upgrading and downgrading a horse’s performance depending on how the race and their individual race was run. And while watching a race, it’s just vital to have the clock to back up what your eyes are telling you about the pace of a race.”