Bloodstock sales and racecourse attendances once again provide the headline figures for Ireland’s horse racing industry, according to Horse Racing Ireland’s (HRI) returns for the first half of 2015. Attendances at race-meetings continued their recovery and on-course betting consolidated its gains from 2014. The continuing challenges facing the industry were, however, highlighted by a decline in the number of entries, horses in training and active owners.
The key statistics are:
- Bloodstock sales up 7.4% from €36.3m to €39m
- Horses in training down 6.8% from 7,209 to 6,720
- Active owners down 5.5% from 3,035 to 2,867
- New owners registered down 6.5% from 369 to 345
HRI's chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "While most of the figures are positive, we are concerned with the horses in training and ownership figures which remain a priority for improvement. There are signs of a real recovery in the domestic economy which will lead to further buyer confidence and we have increased the resources in Irish Thoroughbred Marketing to ensure that ownership is facilitated and encouraged as the recovery continues.”
HRI has continued with reductions in administrative charges for racehorse owners and trainers, which this year amount to 17.5%, representing savings of over €500,000. This follows on from 10% reductions delivered in 2014. Prize-money has also increased by 9.6% which provides improved returns to owners and maintains Ireland’s competitive position internationally.
Brian Kavanagh continued: "Global investment through our bloodstock sales remains one of the most positive industry statistics and reflects international demand for our horses based on their performance, reputation and value – the latter greatly enhanced by recent exchange rate moves."
Attendances increased by 3.9%, following a rise of 4% for the same period last year. The year started strongly with a 7% increase in attendances in January followed by 12% in February, which were later offset by a wet spring which affected attendances. HRI said that the level of demand for summer racing packages, strong advance sales for Galway and Listowel, added to expectations of strong growth for Longines Irish Champions Weekend, should see this trend continue to the year end.
Total on-course betting was up 3.6% with on-course SP shops delivering 17% growth. While Tote Ireland’s betting figures were up 23.6% overall, on-course Tote was down 3.8% and betting on international pools was down 6.5%. Off-course turnover was extremely positive, growing by 35.9% due to significant increases in betting into Irish pools by international operators.
Brian Kavanagh commented: "The Tote’s on-course turnover declined marginally in the first six months of 2015 due primarily to a drop in racing festival performance compared to prior years and falls in turnover on smaller midweek fixtures.
“It is positive that growth in international betting into Irish pools was up by almost 36%. This channel continues to develop, with new partners coming on board and existing partners increasing their turnover on Irish racing.
“Racecourse performance on attendance and sponsorship (up 6%) has been strong and HRI’s €100m capital development fund, enabled by increased Government budgetary support, will improve racecourse facilities for racegoers, owners, trainers and jockeys. This will enable us to keep the momentum of recovery going for the rest of 2015 and following years.”
IRISH THOROUGHBRED RACING INDUSTRY STATISTICS
2015 2014 Variance
Bloodstock sales at public auction €39m €36.3m 7.4%
Fixtures 162 157 3.2%
Races 1,153 1,121 2.8%
Entries 24,134 25,460 (5.2%)
Total runners 12,443 12,910 (3.6%)
Individual runners 4,656 4,788 (2.9%)
Field sizes 10.8 11.5 (6%)
Total horses in training 6,720 7,209 (6.8%)
Active owners 2,867 3,035 (5.5%)
New owners 345 369 (6.5%)
Total prize-money €24m €21.9m 9.6%
Total race sponsorship €2.963m €2.789m 6.25%
Total attendances 544,775 524,185 3.9%
Average attendance 3,470 3,339 3.9%
Total on-course betting (incl. Tote) €39.8m €38.4m 3.6%
On-course bookmaker betting (excl. Tote) €34.7m €33.1m 4.8%
> On-course bookmakers (Home) €29.1m €28.4m 2.5%
>On-course bookmakers (Away) €726K €596K 22%
> On-course SP shops €4.8m €4.1m 17%
Total tote betting €34.1m €27.6m 23.6%
> On-course tote €5.1m €5.3m (3.8%)
> Off-course tote (Irish pools) €26.1m €19.2m 35.9%
> Off-course tote (International pools) €2.9m €3.1m (6.5%)