A FAMILY-RUN business in Cork has secured a four-year deal to cover Irish horse racing.
IRIS, based in the small village of Bartlemy, have been once again awarded the contract for the provision of televised services by Horse Racing Ireland and the Association of Irish Racecourses.
The company is a sister to Bart and Helen Arnold's TVM operation, which was set up in 1986 as a one-stop broadcast facilities company. They moved into a new high-tech headquarters in Bartlemy eight years ago 2012.
The IRIS deal begins this month and runs for four years, with an option to extend on an annual basis up to a maximum of 10 years.
IRIS was set up by the Arnolds and the O’Doherty family, who north of Kilkenny’s Gowran Park offered the same service the Arnolds provided to the south with TVM. It was born out of an initial contract with the HRI in 2005, which was renewed in 2010 after beating off stiff European competition through a tendering process.
Bart Arnold, the company's managing director, has helped IRIS become one of the most respected outside broadcasting providers in Europe. As well as racing, they've covered Heineken Cup games for Sky and FAI internationals.
Bart first ran public-address system at carnivals and athletics meets, starting when he was just 13-years-old. That transferred to racecourses, in 1978, and a year later cameras came into the mix.
With horse racing returning behind closed doors from June 8, fans of the sport will rely on footage to keep them up to date with the action for the foreseeable future. Arnold explains his company are ready to meet all requirements.
“We are delighted to have the opportunity of continuing to support Horse Racing Ireland and the Association of Irish Racecourses in the provision of televised services to Irish horse racing.
"There are several new technologies being introduced which will create innovative ways of viewing, entertaining and informing racing fans around the world. The new arrangements will see the introduction of best in class facilities for the raceday Stewards, enhancing the integrity of Irish horse racing into the future.
"A superb team of people are in the background, delivering a quality service with professionalism, commitment and enthusiasm.”
IRIS have a state-of-the-art truck Nijinsky, named after the famous Irish flat horse, provides the highest standard of coverage, to both the viewing public, and the stewards who are overseeing race integrity and monitoring for infractions.
The contract for the Provision of Televised Services to Irish horse racing is one of HRI’s largest supplier contracts and covers a number of roles on each of Ireland’s 26 racecourses.
That includes supplying raceday integrity services to the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board, racecourse CCTV and providing race coverage to Sports Information Services and Racing TV as well as working alongside terrestrial broadcasters.
Some new initiatives will see the provision for raceday tracking cameras and the use of drone cameras which will greatly enhance the viewing experience.
Brian Kavanagh, CEO of Horse Racing Ireland, is looking forward to the new elements they can bring to the sport's coverage.
“This new contract will see the introduction of a number of innovations to enhance the integrity and broadcast services across Irish racing. We look forward to working with the team at IRIS to deliver these over the coming months and years.
“There has been a favourable reaction to the trials of the tracking cameras at a number of racecourses and we expect the drone coverage will add another exciting dimension to the viewer experience. We thank the IHRB for their valuable input in the process. The delivery of new facilities within the Stewards’ Room and additional cameras at our racecourses will assist the IHRB to deliver a best in class integrity service.”
Paddy Walsh, CEO of the Association of Irish Racecourses, is ready to work again with the expert team at IRIS.
"They will continuing to deliver a top-class service across all Irish racecourses. The introduction of some new technologies and additional cameras will further enhance this service. IRIS is a valuable partner to the racecourses in providing content to our media rights partners and engaging our customers on course.”