UK broadcaster Sky has announced plans to offer a dedicated, high-definition horse racing channel to all customers under its Sky Sports brand.
The current At the Races channel, a joint venture between Sky and Arena Racing Company, will be rebranded as Sky Sports Racing by January 1st, 2019, and made available to all Sky TV customers in the UK and Ireland.
The launch of Sky Sports Racing follows the introduction of dedicated channels for a number of sports including football, Formula One, golf and cricket.
"We've seen a great reaction from our customers to launching dedicated sports channels and this takes us to another level," Sky Sports managing director Barney Francis said. "Horse racing is a massive sport that Sky has been involved in for two decades, now we will have a channel to give our customers more of what they love every day."
Programming will be produced at Sky's West London studios and includes coverage of live racing from more than 650 UK fixtures, as well as exclusive footage of international racing.
"There is no better home for our new channel production facility than Sky Sports' studios which are the best in the business and we believe Sky Sports Racing is set to be a game changer for racing," At the Races chief executive Matthew Imi said. "Later this year we look forward to presenting our plans in more detail to the major constituents in our sport and racing fans more generally."
Sky Sports Racing will also feature live racing from the Chester and Bangor-on-Dee racetracks from March 2019, through a ten-year deal with the tracks' owner Chester Race Company. This will include coverage of the annual Boodles May Festival, a key part of a summer season that attracts crowds of up to 30,000.
"We're delighted to announce this new deal and long-term partnership," Chester Race Company chief executive Richard Thomas said. "We believe it secures a positive and exciting future for Chester and Bangor-on-Dee Racecourses and fits squarely with our values and ambitions.
"We know Sky Sports will move the dial in the way our racing is covered but more than that we are excited by the prospect of how we can communicate and promote racing and the Chester brand further," Thomas continued. "We see real value in what the partnership can bring across TV, digital and social media, for us and for our sponsor partners."