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RTE's Colm back at Cheltenham

AND he's off ... to Cheltenham again.

RTE's Colm Murray is riding high after the broadcaster approved funding for a triumphant return to the racing event of the year.

The Herald can exclusively reveal that the racing expert will be checking out the form and keeping us informed live from the famous racecourse.

There was widespread consternation last year when the cash-strapped station was unable to send Murray to the four-day festival.

It broke with the long-standing tradition of seeing Murray wading his way through over-excited punters and shouting over the cheers of the Irish masses who tended to congregate for his live news reports.

Cutbacks at the station meant that Murray missed the meeting for the first time in 18 years and he was forced to watch proceedings from a studio in Donnybrook.

However, a spokesperson for RTE has confirmed: "Colm Murray will be going to Cheltenham this year."

He added: "He is the only person going from RTE. Tracy Piggot will present the races in the afternoon from here in Donnybrook with programme feed coming from Channel 4."

Delighted

Sources at the station say that Murray is delighted that bosses have come up with the funding, despite the ongoing struggle to reduce spending. In previous years, the Cheltenham job was considered quite expensive for RTE as it involves sending an entire crew to Britain.

However, the spokesperson told the Herald that: "RTE has managed to bring down the costs of covering the event to its cheapest ever."

The news will be welcomed by racing enthusiasts, many of whom can't travel themselves because of the financial situation.

A number of third parties, including folk duo Foster and Allen, offered to fly Murray to Cheltenham last March, but were not allowed because of the strict guidelines which govern RTE funding.

Ken Robertson, of Paddy Power explained: "Similar to most racegoers we have always though of Colm as an institution for Irish racing, particularly during Cheltenham."

Organisers say around 200,000 pints of Guinness will be consumed during the four days.

kdoyle@herald.ie


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