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2011 Irish Racing Industry Statistics Released

Monday, Jan 16 2012

Bloodstock sales, Tote betting and racecourse attendances produced significant growth in 2011, figures issued by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) today show. This marks a positive upturn for the industry which had suffered severe contraction since 2007 across almost all areas.

Growing success in overseas markets saw Irish-foaled horses exported to 35 countries compared to 34 in 2010. Bloodstock sales at public auction in Ireland were €81 million, up 19% from €68 million in 2010. It is estimated that a further €112 million of bloodstock was sold by Irish consignors at auction in Britain and France and the total value of Irish-foaled exported horses sold at public auction was €156.5 million, up 6.5% from €146.9 million.

Racecourse attendances were up by 40,000 at 1.24 million compared to 1.20 million in 2010. The average attendance at race meetings in 2011 was 3,682, up 3% from 3,586.

Tote betting was €51.1 million, up 11.3% from €45.9 million, with most of the increase generated by international co-mingling deals.

While the number of new owners entering the market, an important indicator of the health of horse racing, emerged fractionally ahead at 777, just one up on 2010, total active ownership declined by 8% from 4,667 to 4,278.

The total ownership figure, along with declines in a number of other key areas, show the limited nature of the recovery and the scale of the challenges which must be faced in coming years.  The average number of horses in training fell from 5,769 to 5,030, the lowest number in ten years. Bookmakers’ betting on-course fell from €107.4 million to €97.5million, reflecting the twin challenges of the recession and online wagering, while prize-money fell from €46.0 million to €44.4 million and is now at its lowest level since 2002.

Irish-trained horses had remarkable success in the UK and overseas, with a 53% increase in prize money won abroad from €8.52 million in 2010 to €13 million.  Irish trainers’ skills are reflected in the World Thoroughbred Rankings which show that 6 of the top 10 and 14 of the top 30 two-year-olds in the world in 2011 were Irish–trained.

Horse Racing Ireland CEO, Brian Kavanagh said: “The 2011 figures contain some welcome news for an industry which has endured heavy cutbacks and difficult trading conditions in recent years.  The growth in racecourse attendance is particularly welcome given the pressure that leisure and retail markets generally have been under and I congratulate the racecourses who have worked hard to attract and retain race-goers.

Strong bloodstock sales overall and growth in the value of exports for Irish-bred horses show that the reputation and value of the Irish thoroughbred remains high and this gives us confidence that this figure will continue to grow. The weakness of the horses in training figure, however, is a cause for real concern as this is the area where rural employment is most affected.  This is one of the many challenges which must be addressed in the coming year.”

Key performance figures which grew: 

• Bloodstock Sales*                             up 19.1% to €81m
• Tote Betting                                      up 11.3% to €51.1m
• Irish-foaled exported horse sales      up 6.5% to €156.5m
• Total Attendances                             up 3.3% to 1.24m
• New Owners                                     up 0.1% to 777

Key performance figures which declined: 

• Average Horses in Training             down 12.8% to 5030
• On-Course Bookmakers Betting      down 9.2% to €97.5m
• Total Number of Owners                 down 8.3% to 4,278
• Total Prize Money                           down 3.5% to €44.4m
• Race Sponsorship                            down 3% to €4.8m

Kavanagh continued: “Irish racing is showing resilience in the face of the recession but its capacity to re-build has been severely limited by successive cutbacks to its budget, totalling 26% since 2008. This is a direct consequence of low betting duties and the movement of betting revenues online and off-shore. The negative effect of this on prize money and investment has had damaging effects throughout the industry. Our prize money is at its lowest level for ten years, at a time when other major European racing countries are announcing prize money increases. The 2011 World Thoroughbred Rankings which were published last week, with six of the top ten and fourteen of the top thirty two-year-olds in the world Irish-trained show the potential which exists for real growth in this sector if we can get the structures and funding in place to do so.

The Government’s recently announced plans, to extend the betting duty regime to remote betting and exchanges and to carry out a review of the industry, offer the prospect of a secure funding mechanism for racing and we look forward to working with Minister Coveney and his Department on this task.”

 2011 Irish Thoroughbred Racing Industry Statistics 

Number of Fixtures

Up 0.6% from 334 to 336

Number of Races

Up 0.7% from 2,381 to 2,397 

Number of Entries

Down 9.1% from 72,459 to 65,858

Eliminations

 Down 29.9% from 11,356 to 7,962

Total Number of Runners

 Down 1.6% from 30,590 to 30,106

 Number of Individual Runners

Down 4.9% from 8,027 to 7,630

Number of Individual Winners

Down 1.3% from 1,726 to 1,703

Number of Individual Placed Horses

Down 2.4% from 3,951 to 3,858

Total Prize Money

Down 3.5% from €46.0m to €44.4m

Total Race Sponsorship

Down 3.0% from €4.96m to €4.81m

Total Attendances

Up 3.3% from 1,197,654 to 1,237,377

Average Attendance

Up 2.7% from 3,586 to 3,682

Total Betting 

Down 3.2% from €163.6m to €158.4m

Tote Betting

Up 11.3% from €45.9m to €51.1m

On-Course Bookmakers

Down 9.2% from €107.4m to €97.5m

On-Course SP Shops

Down 4.9% from €10.3m to €9.8m

Total Number of Owners

Down 8.3 % from 4,667 to 4,278

Number of New Owners

Up 0.1 % from 776 to 777

Total Number of Horses in Training

Down 11.7% from 11,136 to 9,832

Average Number of Horses in Training

Down 12.8% from 5,769 to 5,030

Bloodstock Sales at Public Auction

Up 19.1% from €68.0m to €81.0m

Value of Irish Foaled Exported Horses (sold at public auction)

Up 6.5% from €146.9m to 156.5m

Point to Point Fixtures

Up 1.8% from 110 to 112

Point to Point Races

Down 1.1% from 820 to 811