Horse Racing Ireland Six-Month Statistics 2018

New Owners, Syndicates, Prizemoney, Sponsorship and Bloodstock Sales on the rise

Thursday, July 19, 2018
six-month fig 2018- release

Horse Racing Ireland Six-Month Statistics 2018

•             New Owners up 19%

•             New Syndicates up 43.7%

•             Attendances down 2.3%

•             Average Attendance down 1%                  

•             Bloodstock sales up 1.6%

•             Prizemoney up 4.4%

•             Race Sponsorship up 7%

•             Total Horses-in-training down 1.3%

•             Current horses-in-training up 6.4%

The first six months of 2018 sees a further rise in the number of owners supporting the Irish racing industry.  The number of active owners is marginally up on the same period last year, while the number of new owners is up 19%. New syndicate numbers are 44% ahead of the 2017 figure.  Helping drive this is an increase in prizemoney of €1.21m on the first six months of last year, which includes an increase in total race sponsorship.

The first quarter of 2018 saw the fixture list ravaged by extreme weather, the knock-on effects of which led to attendances and the number of horses-in-training taking a hit. Both of those metrics performed strongly in the second quarter.

Twenty five meetings were cancelled and/or rearranged in the period, however the second quarter has seen a resurgence, with May attendances up as much as 10% and the six-month tally coming in just 2% under year-on-year.

Bloodstock sales at Public Auction have also grown again, an upward curve that has improved year-on-year since 2010, underlining the strong reputation which Irish-bred horses have on the global racing scene. 

2018 Half-Year Horses-in-Training, Ownership and Runners: 

  • Total Horses-in-Training - down 1.3% from 7,057 to 6,960
  • Average Field Sizes - down 5.2% from 11.5 to 10.9
  • Active Owners - up 1% from 2,967 to 2,997
  • New Owners - up 19% from 372 to 442          
  • New Syndicates - up 43.7% from 87 to 125

Horse Racing Ireland, Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh:

“Horse Racing Ireland is actively involved in encouraging new owners and retaining our existing ownership base. Last year’s report by Deloitte into the economic impact of the racing and breeding industry in Ireland confirmed owners to be the chief source of funding in Irish racing.

“Our Ownership Department in Horse Racing Ireland markets the benefits and attractions of racehorse ownership in Ireland, and continues to assist trainers with marketing support. I welcome the recent introduction by the Ownership Department of a new online leasing section.

“The arctic weather we endured for such a prolonged period in the spring had a knock-on effect on entries, runners and the numbers of horses-in-training. However, there are definite signs of encouragement because, while the horse-in-training figure of 6,960 is down slightly on last year’s figure, by the end of June, there was over 200 more horses in training than at the same time in 2017. This bodes well for the second half of 2018.”

2018 Half-Year Attendances: 

  • Total Attendances - down 2.3% from 519,425 to 507,337
  • Average Attendance - down 1% from 3,206 to 3,171

Attendances for the opening six months were down 2.3% after a challenging first quarter. The weather conditions in early spring led to 20 fixtures being transferred from an original – more favourable – date to an alternative one, four meetings were cancelled in this period, with one further meeting yet to be rescheduled.

Attendances at the major jumps festivals  were very strong, highlighted by Punchestown’s Spring Festival attracting a record attendance of 127,489, an increase of almost 5,000 on last year. Interest in the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown in February was good with an attendance of 26,136 over the two days, while attendances across the board rallied strongly in the second quarter. 

Horse Racing Ireland, Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh:

“Management and groundstaff at our racecourses, together with the Clerks of the Course from the IHRB, deserve great praise for their expertise and efforts in coping with the extreme weather conditions (of all types) thrown at them during the first half of the year. 

“The number of cancellations and meetings transferred was almost unprecedented and not surprisingly led to a 30% year-on-year dip in the attendance figure for March. But there has been a noticeable bounce in the second quarter – indeed May’s figures alone are up 10% year-on-year.”

2018 Half-Year Betting: 

  • Total Tote betting - down 32.8% from €48.2m to 32.4m
  • Off-course Tote (Irish pools) - down 37.3% from €40.8m to €25.6m
  • Off-course Tote (International pools) - no change at €3.1m
  • On-course Tote - down 13.9% from €4.3m to €3.7m
  • On-course bookmaker betting - down 11.5% from €29.5m to €26.1m          
  • Total on-course betting - down 10.7% from €33.8m to €30.2m

Horse Racing Ireland, Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh:

 “We noted at this time last year that on-course betting figures remained under significant pressure and the figures released today continue to reflect the challenge facing all on-course operators, both Tote and bookmakers. The weather-affected programme in quarter one will have impacted heavily on both but a change in betting habits has made the most telling contribution.

“In relation to the Tote, legislative changes in Israel restricting gambling has had a serious impact on the Tote’s overall turnover. Tote Ireland are continuing to adapt their product on-line in response to market demand and their on-course presence remains an intrinsic part of the race-going experience, as is the case with the on-course bookmakers. The Association of Irish Racecourses is sitting down with the bookmakers presently to discuss their business model and see where changes can be made.”  

2018 Half-Year Prizemoney and Sponsorship: 

  • Total Prizemoney - up 4.4% from €27.695m to €28.904m
  • Total Race Sponsorship - up 7% from €3.477m to €3.722m

More than 75% of race fixtures in Ireland in the first half of 2018 had a race worth a minimum of €20,000, confirming a commitment made by the board of Horse Racing Ireland in its annual budget for the year. Minimum race values were raised to €10,000 across the board with the increases flowing to the races where most owners were competing. The enhanced summer jumps programme with increased prizemoney – designed to provide competitive options for lower tier National Hunt horses – is now bedded in. 

Horse Racing Ireland, Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh:

“We are determined to both attract new owners and retain existing owners and the level of prizemoney is a significant factor in attracting people into horse ownership. Owners are the biggest contributors of funding to our industry, which means that prizemoney and sponsorship are vital elements of a healthy racing economy.  Increased options across all the tiers has helped to reinvigorate the number of syndicates enjoying ownership. It is encouraging that race sponsorship continues to rise as companies and organisations see Irish racing as a fitting partner to help promote and grow their business, as well as utilising racemeetings as a fun and deeply traditional social occasion.” 

On the Track  - so far in 2018

The inaugural Dublin Racing Festival in February was one of the memorable highlights in the first half of 2018. Ireland’s newest jumps racing event,  placing together two iconic feature races - The BHP Insurance Irish Champion Hurdle and The Unibet Irish Gold Cup – together with a top-quality suite of supporting races saw total prizemoney over the 15 races across the weekend of €1.5million. There was a thrilling conclusion to the Irish Jumps trainers’ championship once again this year, while Cheltenham’s March festival saw a tally of 17 Irish-trained winners, the second-highest figure ever. 

The Aintree Grand National was won by Tiger Roll and the English 2,000 Guineas went to Saxon Warrior with Forever Together winning the Epsom Oaks. Ken Condon, Jessica Harrington and Joseph O'Brien all won their first Classics at the Curragh while Royal Ascot featured eight Irish-trained winners, one more than last year. 

Brian Kavanagh stated:

“The inaugural Dublin Racing Festival in February was a success, and already looks a more than snug fit for the spring festival jumps programme here and in Britain.  Many of the 17 Irish-trained winners at Cheltenham had run with note at the Dublin Racing Festival.

“At Cheltenham, Irish owners, trainers and jockeys dominated over the four days. While on the Flat, a very competitive domestic scene was borne out with Ken Condon, Jessica Harrington and Joseph O'Brien each winning their first Classic. There was also considerable success in Britain with Classic and Group 1 wins coming at Newbury, Ascot, Epsom and Newmarket.” 

Off the Track 

Brian Kavanagh commented:

“A number of challenges remain following Britain’s decision to leave the EU and Brexit continues to be a huge source of concern for our industry. There are issues around movement of animals between Ireland and Britain – and movement north-south within Ireland – as well as the threat of tariffs and trade barriers. All of this is in sharp focus for the industry in Ireland because we are a long-established exporting country for horses,  80% of which go to Britain. We continue to work very closely with our European counterparts, including the BHA and France Galop; the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine and Department of Foreign Affairs both here and in Brussels to achieve a workable solution for racehorses and breeding stock after Britain leaves the EU.   

“Evidence of the HRI Capital Development Scheme is now to be seen at racecourses all over the country and the first six months of the year saw works completed at Naas, Punchestown, Galway and Tramore. More than €2.3m has also been initially approved under the Tracks Works Scheme while the redevelopment of the Curragh continues apace and is on target to be completed in time for the 2019 racing season.” 





Horse Racing Ireland is actively involved in encouraging new owners and retaining our existing ownership base. Last year’s report by Deloitte into the economic impact of the racing and breeding industry in Ireland confirmed owners to be the chief source of funding in Irish racing.


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