NTL joins Go Racing consortium in bid for horse racing TV rights

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The Independent Online

Go Racing, one of the two bidders for the media rights to British horse racing, yesterday received a boost to its offering, when NTL, the cable TV group, joined the consortium.

Go Racing, one of the two bidders for the media rights to British horse racing, yesterday received a boost to its offering, when NTL, the cable TV group, joined the consortium.

NTL will team up with the existing members of Go Racing - Channel 4, BSkyB and Arena Leisure - if the £750m bid is successful. The rival bidder is Carlton, the TV group.

The Racecourse Association (RCA) is conducting the negotiations on behalf of the country's 59 racing venues. The RCA aims to recommend one of the bidders and put that to a vote of the courses at a meeting on Tuesday. However, it is understood that Go Racing is trying to pre-empt that meeting and clinch the contest beforehand by signing up enough of the courses individually to make its bid the only viable one.

Through Arena Leisure's own courses, Go Racing has 20 per cent of fixtures anyway. It has signed up courses representing a further 20 per cent of racing fixtures.

Go Racing is also hoping to bring on board the Jockey Club, which represents many of the country's leading courses and another 30 per cent of fixtures. That would take Go Racing to the 70 per cent acceptances figure that it has said it needs for its bid to succeed.

A confident source in the Go Racing camp said: "The way it looks to us is that Carlton is out if it. NTL is another useful addition for us."

The consortium is currently locked in talks with the Jockey Club and it is aiming to sign a deal today, although last night it remained unclear whether it would.

If the Jockey Club signs up, Go Racing could present next week's meeting of the courses with a fait accompli.

David Scott, of Go racing, said: "NTL's involvement would mean that Go Racing would have in place all the essential UK elements required to maximise revenues and the profile of British racing."

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