Sport

Sky Racing 2 free on one-off basis as Tabcorp counts cost after race clashes

Sky Racing's secondary subscription channel will be made free to viewers as punters brace for another nightmare afternoon of race clashes on Saturday, including the feature races in Sydney and Melbourne being scheduled just five minutes apart.

Tabcorp, the country's largest wagering provider, reported Victorian TAB turnover on last weekend's controversial Caulfield meeting was down by 2.8 per cent, while all other meetings across the country took a hit of more than 10 per cent after Racing Victoria conducted a week-long trial of 30-minute gaps between races.

Return to Randwick: Hugh Bowman riding Winx.
Return to Randwick: Hugh Bowman riding Winx. Photo: Vince Caligiuri

It led to direct clashes with other meetings across the country forcing Sky Racing - Tabcorp's television arm which holds the rights to NSW, Queensland and South Australian racing - to relegate vision of Caulfield races to its secondary platform.

The subscription for Sky Racing 2 will be lifted on a one-off basis on Saturday, which will feature the group 1 Orr Stakes at Caulfield and the return of Australia's best racehorse, Winx, in the Apollo Stakes at Randwick.

Clubs and pubs will also carry the audio of Caulfield races even if the vision is shown on Sky Racing 2.

Having extended its trial by another week after claiming it was unsatisfied with the reliability of betting data from the trial given Caulfield races were bumped off Sky Racing's wall-to-wall service, Racing Victoria is hoping for a clearer wagering picture this week.

Racing Queensland has already altered the time of one of its races at Doomben this week to avoid a direct clash with Caulfield and Racing NSW made a similar two concessions at Warwick Farm on Wednesday.

But it is the five-minute gap between the Apollo Stakes and Orr Stakes which has enraged most punters, who face the prospect of Winx crossing the line at Randwick before vision is cut away to Caulfield.

Australia's leading group 1 trainer Chris Waller will also have five-time major winner Boban in the Orr Stakes, while potentially juggling the task of a post-race interview should Winx justify her odds-on favouritism in the Apollo Stakes.

It is one of five occasions where Randwick and Caulfield races will be run just five minutes apart with Tabcorp describing Sky Racing's predicament as a "no-win situation".

"Tabcorp and its racing broadcaster, Sky Racing, fully respect racing's push to innovate and experiment with the raceday experience," a Tabcorp statement said. "However, this must be done with the agreement of the industry nationally where the changes impact on the other states."

Corporate bookmaker William Hill has even framed a market on how many Caulfield races will be bumped from Sky Racing's wall-to-wall channel to its secondary platform.

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