Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) today released the
2019 Irish horse racing and breeding industry statistics which confirm an
increase in people attending racemeetings in Ireland and continued growth in
The number of horses returned in training in
Ireland – a key driver of employment – rose for the third time in four years,
with a 3% increase in 2019.
New owner registrations were up by 6.8% year-on-year with over 850 new
racehorse owners registered with Horse Racing Ireland. The bulk of these new registrations
(600) were sole owners and partners, as well as 216 new syndicates.
Irish horses was strong with sales and exports increasing in both value and
Commercial race sponsorship and contributions
to prizemoney by racecourses continued to rise strongly, growing by another 17.3%
million people attended race meetings in 2019 and on course betting increased
by 4.5% year-on-year.
most significant figure for 2019 however was the fact that, following a series
of changes in betting tax arrangements, off course betting duty receipts
collected by the government in 2019 amounted to €95m. These receipts, which
have grown from €26m in 2014, comfortably exceeded the Exchequer funding
provided for horse racing of €67.2m.
Executive Brian Kavanagh said:
generates a very significant return to the rural economy in Ireland and a
positive international profile for our country. None of this success could be
achieved without the support provided by the Government.
“2019 was a
good year for Irish racing, however the industry requires long-term certainty
of funding to be able to plan strategically, not least in the context of the
challenges provided by Brexit.
revenue from betting tax provides the basis for such a long-term funding
mechanism and Horse Racing Ireland will engage actively with the incoming
Government in the coming month to achieve this objective.”
Horses-in-Training and Ownership
up 6.8% from 797 to 851
up 6.4% from 3,817 to 4,061
up 3% from 8,688 to 8,949
Entries and Runners
up 5.8% from 31,331 to 33,146
National Hunt Entries
down 0.1% from 32,405 to 32,369
up 2.8% from 63,736 to 65,515
up 7.2% from 14,034 to 15,038
National Hunt Runners
up 3.8% from 15,859 to 16,467
up 5.7% from 7,066 to 7,470
Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh, said:
“Increasing ownership and participation is a strategic priority for Horse
Racing Ireland and 2019 delivered healthy increases in the number of new and total
owners and, consequently, the number of horses-in-training.
“It was very positive to see 216 new
syndicates registering with Horse Racing Ireland in 2019. Our analysis shows
that an average syndicate has eight members and the syndicate model is a
cost-effective and fun way for people to get involved in horse ownership.
“Further analysis has shown that these 216 new
syndicates have horses in training with 110 different trainers and it is
encouraging that the increases we are seeing in racehorse ownership are being
felt all over the country.
“The rise in owners was reflected in an
increase in horses-in-training, both for the number of individual runners in
2019 (5.7%) and for the number of total runners on the track (5.4%).
“The Ownership Department in Horse Racing
Ireland continues to work closely with the racecourses to ensure that racehorse
owners in Ireland have a good experience. We need to keep those improvements
going and ensure that prizemoney and minimum race values remain competitive. Owner
retention (i.e. those active for two consecutive years) in 2019 was 75%, the
highest rate it has been since 2007, so the strides made in owner experience
and the commitment to prizemoney are paying off.”
up 3.2% from 1.274m to 1.315m
A successful Christmas period brought the
total number of racegoers for the year to just over 1.3m.
“Attendances in 2019 were strong and the popularity of racing as a spectator
sport was backed up by a 3.2% increase year-on-year. For the first time in a
decade in 2019 Horse Racing Ireland returned with a television advertising
campaign and that has been warmly received.
“With the assistance of various Horse Racing
Ireland capital development schemes, our racecourses have invested strongly in
upgrading facilities. As well as the obvious contribution this makes to local
economies, it has also served to make racecourses more modern and comfortable
for racegoers. There remains much to do
however, and Horse Racing Ireland will continue to work hard on ensuring the
best possible customer experience. This
year will see the completion of the roll-out of the Racecourse Free WiFi
Bloodstock Sales at public auction
up 2.4% from €161.5m to €165.3m
Value of Irish-foaled exported
horses sold through auction
up 6.1% from €263.1m to €279.1m
Number of countries Irish-foaled
horses sold to
Up 1 from 31 to 32
Brian Kavanagh said:
“On the track, Irish-bred horses continued to succeed at the highest levels
internationally and the value of Irish-foaled exports in 2019 was up by over 6%
to €279.1m. Bloodstock sales at public auction also posted an increase
year-on-year, by 2.4% to €165.3m.
“These figures are all the more welcome given
the damaging uncertainty in the market created by Brexit. The hope is that with certainty creeping into
the Brexit process for the time being anyway, the gains made in 2019 can be
replicated and built upon in 2020.
“Encouragingly, there is a continuing
attraction of Irish-foaled horses to international buyers. As well as the increased sales figures, we see
confirmation of this with the fact that Irish-foaled horses sold through
auction were exported to 32 countries. The horses themselves are their best
advertisement and this statistic is a tribute to the quality of the Irish horse
and its global reputation for excellence.”
Prizemoney and Sponsorship
up 4% from €63.5m to €66.06m
up 17.3% from €5.2m to €6.1m
down 0.5% from €2.2m to €2.19m
“The international environment has rarely been as competitive and prizemoney
remains one of the key factors in attracting owners to have horses in training
“Prizemoney grew by 4% in 2019 to €66.06m. There will be a further slight increase to
€68m in 2020, but we want to do more.
“Commercial sponsorship and racecourse
contributions to prizemoney continued in a strong upward trend. Increases in
2016, 2017 and 2018 have been followed by a significant rise last year with
commercial sponsorship and racecourse contributions to prizemoney up by 17.3%
from €5.2m to €6.1m.”
“One area of prizemoney policy which worked
well in 2019 was the introduction of a new €500,000 fund between twenty Grade 2
and Grade 3 racecourses to help increase the value of their feature races.
These increases enhanced the quality of feature racedays at many of our
smaller, vibrant racecourses around the country.
down 13% from €69.2m to €60.2m
Bookmaker Betting (ring)
up 6.6% from €54.8m to €58.4m
On-Course SP Shops
down 1% from €10m to €9.9m
On-Course Tote Betting
down 0.9% from €10.7m to €10.6m
Total On-Course Betting (incl Tote)
up 4.5% from €75.5m to €78.9m
“It was very encouraging to see the betting
ring return a 6.6% increase year-on-year. Obviously increased attendances mean
more potential customers for on-course bookmakers, but it is clear also that
people see the on-course bookmakers as a part of the atmosphere of a day at the
races and enjoy the service and interaction that goes along with having a bet
with them and with the Tote at the races. While changing habits and
technological advances mean that the ring isn’t back to where it once was, this
is a positive development.
“2019 was another challenging year for Tote Ireland. While on course turnover fell
by just 1%, Tote betting overall was down 13% (or €9m), the majority of this accounted
for by a significant dip in international money bet off-course into Irish
“The Board of Horse
Racing Ireland received a full presentation on future options for Tote Ireland.
All options are being considered and we will revert with a recommended position
in the coming months. The decision will reflect what we believe is the best
option for Irish racing.
“It is worth noting that total off-course betting receipts
collected by the Government rose 81.6% in 2019, reflecting a 1% rise in the
rate of betting tax. This means that, for the first time, the €95m collected in
betting tax receipts significantly exceeded the Exchequer funding for horse
CLICK HERE FOR 2019 INDUSTRY STATISTICS TABLE