Horse Racing Ireland has today released its figures for the six months up to June and the results are worrying for everyone in the horse racing industry with a 14% decrease in the number of horses in training the most worrying figure to come out of today’s report.
Despite an increase in bloodstock sales at public auction, an increase in Tote betting and increase in average attendance at race meetings there is a sever reduction in the number of horses in training, on course bookmaker betting and race sponsorship.
Commenting on the figures Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, has pointed to a number of key factors that have contributed to the poor figures “With prize money down by a further 5% (€1.1m) to date this year and 25% in total since 2008, a decline in entries and runners was inevitable” said Kavanagh.
“However the 14% fall in the number of horses in training for the first six months is very worrying as this has a direct impact on employment levels throughout the country.”
On the positive side for the HRI the number of people going racing has increased slightly and Kavanagh feels that is due, in part, to racecourse trying new ideas to attract patrons through the gate.
He said “Initiatives such as student days at Cork and Limerick, combined with good performances at the major Festivals at Fairyhouse (up 4,400) and Punchestown (up 1,600) contributed to a welcome increase year on year”.
An area that is causing a lot of problems for the HRI is the betting market. On course bookmaker betting fell by 10% up to June and Kavanagh acknowledges that unless something is done about off shore betting then the problem will continue to grow.
“On course bookmaker betting remains under extreme pressure. The reality is that the on course market is finding it increasingly difficult to compete with the tax free offshore alternatives and until a proper licensing and taxation arrangement is put in place for these platforms, that will remain the case.”
Along with the offshore bookmakers Kavanagh feels that a plan needs to be put in place by where the horse racing and greyhound industries are not surviving on the back of government grants. “The industry has suffered a series of cutbacks in recent years and urgently requires a long term funding solution which is not dependent on Government grants”.
“We at HRI believes that the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund can be and should be fully funded from betting duty and is working with the Government to achieve this through a meaningful levy on betting across all platforms.”
“We should not have the situation where a betting industry with annual turnover of more than €4.5bn generates betting duty of less than €30m, whereas 20 years ago, when turnover was just €370m, duty was €37m”.
Total Prize Money
Total Horses In Training (Jan to June)
Total Individual Runners
Average Runners Per Race
Total On-Course Bookmaker Betting
Total Tote Betting
Tote Betting Irish Pools
Tote Betting Overseas Pools
Bloodstock Sales at Public Auction
New Owners Registered