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Ownership numbers up but attendance figures fall
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Farming Classifieds
Ownership numbers up but attendance figures fall
on 21 July 2017
HRI has released half-yearly figures which show rises in active owners, prize money and sales, but attendances and on-course betting have fallen

HORSE Racing Ireland figures for the first six months of 2017 released today show significant increases in some key areas of Irish racing.

Syndicates, prize money, field sizes and bloodstock sales are on the rise though racecourse attendances are still a concern, although the reduced capacity at the Curragh being responsible for the decline. Attendances for the major jumps festivals in the first six months of 2017 were very strong, according to HRI.


• National Hunt Runners up 8.9%

• Flat Runners up 6.2%

• Field Sizes up 7.5%

• Syndicates up 14%

• Active owners up 2.6%

• Attendances down 3.8%

• Prize money up 8.4%

• Race Sponsorship up 6.1%

• Bloodstock sales up 17.7%

• Tote Betting up 9%

• On-Course Betting down 6.4%

• Record year for Irish-trained horses at Cheltenham

The first six months of 2017 saw increased numbers of runners in both National Hunt and Flat races in Ireland, running for more prize money in an ownership environment which featured a strong resurgence in newly-formed syndicates.

Syndicate numbers, an important source of business for racehorse trainers, suffered significant losses when the economic crisis hit, but syndicates are up 14% in the first half of 2017. Active owners are also up once again, with a 2.6% increase from the same period last year.

With active owners up and prize money increasing by 8.4%, unsurprisingly, demand for bloodstock sales at public auction continued its upward trajectory since 2010, with sales up 17.7% in the first half of this year.

Tote Ireland betting continues to perform strongly, showing an overall increase of 9%, driven by international betting markets.

2017 Half-Year Horses-in-Training, Ownership and Runners:

Field Sizes up 7.5% from 10.7 to 11.5

Active Owners up 2.6% from 2,892 to 2,967

Individual Runners up 4% from 4,776 to 4,971

Horses-in-training up 0.5% from 7,024 to 7,057

HRI's chief executive Brian Kavanagh said: "The growth in entries, runners and active owners is welcome. HRI has invested significantly in broadening the ownership base in Ireland, providing marketing support for our trainers, as well as introducing further measures to reduce ownership costs. Significantly, the first half of 2017 saw an 8.4% increase in prize money and a 6% increase in sponsorship.

“Healthy increases in runners and field sizes are very positive, and the recovery in the National Hunt sphere hinted at the end of 2016 has taken hold. The buoyancy of the recent store sales and the active role played by Irish owners and trainers at those sales is testament to this, and bodes well for further growth in the future.”

2017 Six-month Irish Thoroughbred racing Industry statistics


Total Attendances down 3.8% from 540,055 to 519,425

Average Attendance down 3.2% from 3,313 to 3,206

Fixtures down 1.2% from 164 to 162

Attendances at the major jumps festivals in the first six months of 2017 were very strong, highlighted by Punchestown’s Spring Festival attracting a record attendance of 122,557.

Two fewer fixtures in the timeframe captured in this report, as well as reduced attendance at the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby Festival at the Curragh, have contributed to the slight fall in attendances.

*For consistency in figures from year-to-year, the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby weekend is included in the statistics for the opening six months.


Total Tote betting up 9% from €44.2m to €48.2m

Off-course Tote (Irish pools) up 12.1% from €36.4m to €40.8m

Off-course Tote (International pools) up 3.3% from €3.0m to €3.1m

On-course Tote down 10.4% from €4.8m to €4.3m

On-course bookmaker betting down 5.8% from €31.3m to €29.5m

Total on-course betting down 6.4% from €36.1m to €33.8m

Tote Ireland’s strong overall trend continued with betting turnover up by 9% in the first half of the year. Off-course turnover remained high, growing by 12.1% due to continued increases in betting into Irish pools by international operators. But the on-course turnover continues to decrease with both the Tote (-10.4%) and on-course bookmakers (-5.8%) reflecting the slight decline in attendances and changed betting habits.

Brian Kavanagh said: “Overall Tote betting continued its trend of double digit growth in recent times. As well as rising turnover in traditional markets, particularly Britain, Irish pools have been boosted by growth in other international markets, most notably the US and Israel.

"From a product perspective, growth has been most notable in Win betting, which has increased by 38%, and also Pick 6 betting, which has increased by 205%. As is the case each year, the Galway festival will have a major bearing on betting figures for the second half and the full year.

“The attendance at the Curragh for Dubai Duty Free Derby weekend obviously had an impact on on-course betting figures. However, it is clear that, regardless of attendances, on-course betting with both Tote and bookmakers remains under significant pressure.”


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