Six-month statistics for the racing and breeding industry,
released today by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), show significant rises in
racecourse attendance, new owners entering the racing industry, a strong
retention rate of those already involved in ownership, and a welcome rise in
the turnover of on-course bookmakers.
The half-year returns reveal a further increase in the number of
horses-in-training in Ireland, a figure seen as a key indicator of the
employment dividend provided by the racing and breeding industries.
Racecourse attendances increased by 9% year-on-year and brought
with it a significant knock-on effect with on-course bookmakers enjoying a
strong beginning to 2019, reversing recent trends to report a year-on-year
increase in turnover of 11.5%. Tote betting remained down overall but like on-course
bookmakers, Tote betting increased on track by 5.4%, while on-course SP shops
saw a 9.7% increase in turnover.
Active Owners were up by 8.5% year-on-year, with the owner
retention rate (owners active in two consecutive years) in Irish racing hitting
a 10-year high at 87%.
New owner registrations were up by 9.5% year-on-year with 484 new
owners registering with Horse Racing Ireland – the highest figure since 2008.
This contributed to an increase in horses-in-training of 3.5% in the same
in ownership figures and in horses-in-training positively impacted field sizes
and individual runners. Field sizes are seen as one of the drivers of betting
turnover and Irish racing posted a healthy average field size of 11.6 runners
per race for the first six months of 2019. Individual runners were up by 9% to
5,217 and individual runners that won prizemoney were up by 6%.
Brexit uncertainty, bloodstock sales returned a year-on-year increase, with
modest gains of 1.3%. Total race sponsorship
continued to rise strongly, building on growth in 2018 to post another increase
– of 12.8% - in the first half of the year.
update from HRI Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh:
“It is very encouraging that figures for the first six months
demonstrate increased participation rates across the ownership spectrum, more
horses-in-training, and people coming to the races in bigger numbers and
enjoying the wonderful product we have.
“We have worked hard on bringing new owners into Irish racing
and then, with the racecourses, ensuring that the ownership experience was
positive so that the retention rate of our ownership base was high. It is
pleasing therefore to see the rates of new owners and owner tracking at
“Ownership has been a key focus for Horse Racing Ireland and
among the policy approaches has been increased prizemoney, increased
opportunities for every strand of owner, the reduced costs and, this year, to ensure
that prizemoney filters down to six places. Particular credit must go to our
ownership team who work with racecourses on the ownership experience, run
marketing support programmes for trainers, and organised the inaugural and
hugely successful Trainers’ Open Morning last May.
“The increased ownership base, allied to that retention of
the business, has a huge impact on racing in Ireland because increased
horses-in-training and participation all over the country benefits trainers and
breeders, and every facet of the industry.
“The quality of young horses reared in Ireland and prepared
for sales, together with the resilience of the market for Irish horses, brought
strong figures at both National Hunt Store sales.
“It is always worth bearing in mind
that, despite our size, we are the third biggest producers of thoroughbred
foals in the world. Naturally, this means that we are significant exporters and
80% of those exports go to Britain. The challenges in terms of movement of
animals, customs and tariffs, and potential protectionism that Brexit will
visit upon us, could have detrimental consequences and we continue to work on
behalf of the industry with our international racing colleagues, politicians
and officials both in Ireland and in Brussels.”
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