Association of Irish Racecourses
John Moloney. Chairman
(c) Healy Racing PhotographyRacecourses are the critical element for horseracing to take place – without the well-developed network of 26 racecourses located in nineteen different counties on the island, which are capable of hosting both National Hunt and flat race meetings, horseracing in Ireland simply would not happen and the related economic activities such as training, horse breeding and betting would either not be possible or would be seriously curtailed. In this sense, racecourses may be seen as the underlying ‘network infrastructure’ over which the spectacle of horseracing, with all its ancillary add-on activities, is provided to the public.
Key Indicators. . In recent years, previous declines in several key indicators for the overall horseracing industry have been reversed and improvements have taken place in a number of areas. However, long term issues remain – total attendances have increased in recent years but are still well below the level seen at the peak and average attendance is weak. There has been a small increase in the number of fixtures and races held and industry funding has increased along with prize money. More betting activity is subject to tax but on course bookmakers are under severe pressure. The number of horse owners and horses in training have each shown steep declines which is a cause for concern for the future of horseracing.
Economic Contribution.. Racecourses are only one part of the overall horseracing and breeding industry but, if it is accepted that racecourses are an essential precursor to all the related activities, then the racecourse activity is critically important and has a very high multiplier effect for all the other related activities in the wider horseracing industry. The 2017 Deloitte report on the Economic Impact of Irish Breeding and Racing estimated that the core breeding and racing industry generated €1.05 billion gross expenditure and, when secondary effects are included, that total economy wide expenditure amounted to €1.84 billion.
Tourism. Recent information on the relationship between horseracing and tourism is lacking. However, from earlier work in this area, it is clear that racecourses play an important part in Ireland’s tourism industry, with a number of racing festivals coinciding with peak holiday times within the country. As a result, racing festivals held at Irish racecourses have an important role to play in the development of tourism within the country by attracting attendance at race meetings from domestic sources and from overseas. A research study commissioned for HRI in 2009 estimated the annual expenditure in the economy by overseas visitors who attend race meetings in Ireland came to just over €67 million. This study estimated that the number of overseas visitors attending race meetings in the period June 2008 to May 2009 came to 68,405 who, between them spent an average of €980 per visit, yielding a total spend over the period of €67,036,900.The same study found that overseas visitors made up 9% of all attendees at race meetings in Ireland.