Horse Racing Ireland unveils ambitious Strategic Plan for the industry


Strategy for 2020-2024 seeks to increase annual economic contribution of the industry to €2.5bn, increase direct and indirect employment in racing and breeding to 35,000, and annual attendances to 1.5 million

Tuesday, March 03, 2020
Strat Plan Cover

Horse Racing Ireland unveils ambitious Strategic Plan for the industry


·         Total sustainable employment to 35,000

·         Broaden interest and appeal of racing to increase attendances to 1.5 million

·         Second All-Weather track in Tipperary and redeveloped equine campus at the Irish Equine Centre

·         Increase fixtures to 416, and minimum race value of €12,500

·         Education and training programme to meet industry’s employment needs

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) today unveiled its five-year strategic plan for the horse racing and breeding industry for 2020-2024. Setting out six strategic priorities, with a focus on people and horses, HRI’s strategic plan outlines actions that will drive an increase in the return on government investment, significantly improve the worth of the industry to the rural economy and build on the numbers employed across the country. The Strategic Plan also targets participation at all levels of the industry with increased fixtures, a second all-weather track, an increase in the minimum race value and a programme of equine welfare initiatives.

Horse Racing Ireland Chairman Nicky Hartery, said:

“The most recent analysis shows that for every euro of government support the racing and breeding industry receives, it returns over €30 to the economy, mostly in rural Ireland.

“This strategic plan seeks to build on that dynamic and further grow what is a sustainable and indigenous industry. Horse racing and breeding play a vital role in the rural economy and the delivery of this plan will increase the positive impact the industry has all over the country.

“The areas we have identified that will deliver our vision are: increased participation at all levels; a focused plan to broaden the interest and appeal of racing; ensuring that we have the best employment policies for our industry; and building on our strong record to ensure the best-in-class  integrity and equine welfare standards. All of this will need investment and that is contingent upon delivery of a sustainable funding model for our industry.

“Following a series of changes in betting tax arrangements, off course betting duty collected by the government in the year amounted to €94m in 2019. This figure comfortably exceeds Exchequer funding provided to horse racing and a projected growth in these receipts in the coming years will allow for a progressive increase in funding to €98m by 2024 at a reduced cost to the Exchequer.”

Increasing ownership and participation is a long-held priority for Horse Racing Ireland. 2019 delivered healthy increases in the number of new and total owners and, consequently, the number of horses-in-training.

HRI Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh said:

“The current number of horses-in-training stands at close to 9,000 and it is our aim to grow that figure to over 10,000 in the next five years. These extra horses with be catered for with an expanded fixture list and it is our objective to increase the overall prize fund to €90m by 2024, raising the minimum race value to €12,500 to broaden the distribution of prize money to owners, trainers, jockeys and stablestaff at all levels.

“Our aim is that the number of people directly employed in the racing and breeding industry will increase from 9,500 to 12,000, resulting in a significant boost to the local economy.”

The aim of broadening the interest and appeal will focus on raising the profile of horseracing in Ireland. There will be a greater emphasis in the promotion and marketing of racing by the racecourses themselves and, in turn, growing sponsorship and brand activation of Irish horse racing.

HRI Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh said:

“Attendance figures continue to grow. It is important that this trend continues and we are confident of reaching our targets by broadening interest and appeal in Irish horse racing with a number of  initiatives including continued roll-out of the racecourse Wi-Fi scheme, a loyalty programme and an enhanced advance tickets sales strategy which will be in place by next year with the target of 1.5m racegoers in 2024.

“A contribution of up to €30m will be put towards a new capital development scheme of at least €70m to support racecourses throughout Ireland, improving facilities for both customers and those working in the industry. One of the key projects within the new fund will be the creation of a second all-weather track as part of a major redevelopment of Tipperary Racecourse and its surroundings, and the provision of one stable per horse for runners at all racecourses by 2022.”

Ireland is a leader in the thoroughbred breeding and racing industry and to maintain our high standards, Horse Racing Ireland is committed to improving support for our people and horses across the industry. Ensuring best practice employment standards, improving employment standards across the country and providing enhanced welfare support services to all those working in the industry are absolute priorities.

HRI Chairman Nicky Hartery said:

“We will strive to do even better for our people and our horses through continued strong support, improving employment standards, communication and enhancing welfare support services to all those working in what can be a demanding industry.

“Through working with the IHRB, we will ensure that Irish racing operates to the highest standards of integrity and fairness. A multi-annual funding framework will allow the IHRB to provide world class regulatory services for the racing industry and working with the IHRB, Weatherbys and the relevant sections within the Department for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, we will continue to implement a ‘whole of life’ traceability system for all thoroughbreds.

“HRI will support the essential establishment of a new equine health and welfare campus and ensure that best practice in equine welfare is adopted throughout the industry.”

CLICK HERE FOR COPY OF HRI STRATEGIC PLAN 2020-2024

This strategic plan seeks to build on that dynamic and further grow what is a sustainable and indigenous industry. Horse racing and breeding play a vital role in the rural economy and the delivery of this plan will increase the positive impact the industry has all over the country.

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