THE Association of Irish Racecourses (AIR) this week announced the introduction of a standard policy of additional tickets for racehorse owners at all 26 Irish racecourses. The enhanced scheme will commence on December 1st at Limerick and Dundalk.
Along with their current allocation of AIR access cards, sole owners, partnerships, clubs and companies can request up to an additional four admission tickets. A syndicate can request admission for any registered member of the syndicate who does not have an AIR card, thereby ensuring all members receive admission when they have a runner.
The process of requesting the additional tickets will be managed between each individual racecourse and the Ownership Department of Horse Racing Ireland (HRI). Tickets must be requested in advance of the stated deadline for each meeting and full information about the scheme and how to apply is available on www.racehorseownership.ie/tickets.
There was broad welcome from the leading bodies looking after the interests of both racecourses and the owners for this initiative. Speaking for the 26 Irish racecourses, Paddy Walsh, chief executive of AIR said: “To have the unanimous support of all the racecourses on this ticketing policy is a significant statement of the importance Irish racecourses place on the support of racehorse owners. Irish racecourses have made significant capital investments in recent years with the ownership experience one of our top priorities, and today’s announcement is another positive step.”
Charged with boosting racehorse ownership, Horse Racing Ireland’s Aidan McGarry, owner relations manager, welcomed the new arrangement. “Racecourse admission was one of the main concerns raised in the most recent Racehorse Owner Survey carried out by Horse Racing Ireland. The racecourses are such an important stakeholder in the racehorse owner’s experience, so together with the investment in owner facilities through the Horse Racing Ireland Racecourse Capital Development Fund this is an excellent offering.
Ensuring that all syndicate members receive admission is particularly welcomed and the support from the racecourses is greatly appreciated.”
Aiden Burns, manager of the Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, was no less enthusiastic. “The Association of Irish Racehorse Owners, on behalf of owners, very much welcomes and appreciates what the racecourses have agreed to. The allocation of additional tickets will not only be a boost to syndicates and other types of owners, but could play a part in attracting more people into racehorse ownership.”
Improving the lot of owners, as well as other important stakeholders such as racegoers, has been a key point made by the managers and chief executives of all the racecourses I visited during my racecourse challenge this year.
The level of offering varies from course to course, dictated by the infrastructure of each track and the importance of the meeting or festival.
What is not different is the commitment from the executives at the tracks to do the best they can for owners. AIR and HRI have made enhancing the owners experience a priority when racecourses have applied for funding under the HRI Racecourse Capital Development Fund.
Paddy Walsh reminded this column a few months ago about the levels of investment already made and being made in Irish racecourses in the new millennium. In the period 2000 to 2014, racecourses invested over €265 million on capital developments. HRI provide grant aid of up to 40% of all approved developments with the racecourses finding the balance. Under the current capital development programme covering 2015 – 2019 there is a projected spend of €127 million, which racecourses will fund directly to the tune of €76 million.
This latest initiative is further proof that racecourses are listening to their customers and responding in a positive way.