Free wifi to be provided at all Irish racecourses in 2020

Russell targets return from sickness as Mullins plots introduction of French recruits

Free Wifi is expected to be available at all Irish tracks in 2020 although Laytown’s famous beach fixture could prove an exception.

Ireland's 26 racecourses previously committed to free Wifi in an investment reportedly costing €2.4 million, with Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) supplying grants for half of that.

"We have it rolled out to, I think, 18 tracks at this stage and we'll have seven more done before they race next year. So effectively all racing next year will be covered by wifi," said Paddy Walsh, chief executive of the Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) on Monday.

“The exception is Laytown. With its special circumstances we couldn’t find a cost-effective way of doing it. Having said that, we might find some way of half-doing it. But Laytown is Laytown, an exceptional case,” he added.


An anticipated upcoming 10 per cent drop in media rights revenue to racecourses due to betting shops closures in Britain, and currency fluctuations with sterling, won’t impact on free wifi plans for racegoers.

Running costs

“People are committed to the initial costs of putting in the infrastructure,” Walsh explained. “After that there are running costs. But with that we’re hoping to try and commercialise the fact we have wifi and generate additional funds that we can put back into running costs,” he said.

In other news, Davy Russell, who had to stand himself down during Sunday's action at Punchestown when feeling unwell, hopes to return to action next weekend.

“I still feel a bit sick to be honest,” the former champion jockey reported. “I’m not riding at Tramore. Hopefully I’ll be back for the weekend after having some medication.”

Tramore's meeting on Tuesday sees Willie Mullins introduce a couple of interesting French recruits to racing in Ireland.

The Rich Ricci-owned Five O’Clock was placed twice at Auteuil last year, while Dolcita lines up in a mares maiden hurdle won by no less than Laurina two years ago. Dolcita has also got placed form around Auteuil.

With heavy ground forecast, Romella looks an interesting contender for a mares handicap hurdle judged on a good run last time behind Theatre Run at Thurles.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column