Emerald Isle horseracing a breath of fresh AIR for RTÉ

Public service broadcaster RTÉ has reached an agreement with the Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) that will ensure coverage of the country's racing calendar remains free-to-air until at least the end of 2011.

Irish public service broadcaster RTÉ has reached an agreement with the Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) that will ensure coverage of the country's racing calendar remains free-to-air until at least the end of 2011.

The Irish Grand National, Power's Gold Cup, the Champion Stakes and the Irish Derby - the blue riband event of the flat season – will all be screened live, as will all of the major festivals, including Punchestown, Galway and the Christmas Festival at Leopardstown.

"Our agreement underlines the importance of Irish horse racing to both the general public and to racing enthusiasts alike and should be helpful in our drive to maximize sponsorship opportunities in the future," said AIR chief executive Paddy Walsh.

Glen Killane, RTÉ Group head of sport, added: "This new agreement with the AIR underlines RTÉ's firm commitment to Irish racing.

"Horse racing has a special place in the Irish sporting calendar, which fits very comfortably with RTÉ’s service to the Irish public.

"We are delighted that we will be strengthening our ties with Irish racing over the coming three years.”

RTÉ has also secured the rights to a number of major UK races including the Cheltenham Festival and the Grand National, England’s most famous race.

In total, more than 30 racing days a year will be screened by the broadcaster.