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Horse Racing Ireland reports positive growth in 2016

Horse Racing Ireland reports positive growth in 2016Following unprecedented success on the track for Irish-trained horses in 2016 under both Flat and National Hunt codes, Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has announced a positive set of industry figures for the year, with growth across almost all areas. Irish bloodstock sales increased for the seventh consecutive year and exports for the sixth consecutive year in 2016. Tote Ireland also experienced a sixth consecutive year of growth, with turnover up by 22%. Commercial sponsorship continued its recovery, growing by 12%, European Breeders Fund (EBF) sponsorship grew by 7%, while racecourse attendances were up by 3.3%.

This background of growth is now being reflected in the areas of horses-in-training, ownership and race entries which was particularly evident in the second half of the year.

2016 Sales

  • Bloodstock Sales at Public Auction up 7.7% from €152.5m to €164.2m
  • Export Sales at Public Auction up 1.9% from €267.7m to €272.9

“2016 represented a seventh consecutive year of growth in sales, with the value of Irish bloodstock sold at public auction being €164.2m, up 7.7% on the 2015 figures” said HRI Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh.

“Irish-bred horses continue to dominate at the highest levels internationally and the value of Irish-foaled exported horses sold through public auction grew to €272.9m. This was a 1.9% increase on the previous year and Irish horses were exported to 36 different countries.”

Horses-in-Training and Ownership

  • Horses-in-Training up 4.2% from 8,214 to 8,561
  • Active Owners up 1.5% from 3,609 to 3,663
  • New Owners up 9.5% from 644 to 705         

Entries and Runners

  • Flat Entries up 7.3% from 25,199 to 27,035
  • National Hunt Entries up 5.4% from 29,681 to 31,281
  • Total Entries up 6.3% from 54,880 to 58,316
  • Flat Runners up 10.7% from 11,560 to 12,801
  • National Hunt Runners up 4.1% from 15,488 to 16,130
  • Total Runners up 7% from 27,048 to 28,931
  • Average field size up 4.7% from 10.7 to 11.2

In 2016, Active owner levels and horses in training levels increased for the first time since 2008.

“Most encouragingly,” said Kavanagh, “new owners were up by nearly 10% on last year.”

An active owner is one for whom at least one entry was made during the period. Sole owners and partnerships remain by some way the most popular forms of ownership in Ireland with 83% registered in that format. Syndicates showed an increase of 6% year on year, comprising 14% of the ownership total. 

Such increases in ownership were reflected in significant rises in the entries and runners for both Flat and National Hunt racing, with the average field size increasing from 10.7 to 11.2 runners overall. In 2016, Flat entries were up by 7.3% and runners by 10.7%, while National Hunt figures also rose with significant growth during the second six months of 2016, so that by year end there were overall increases in entries (5.4%), runners (4.1%) and average field sizes (2.7%).” 

2016 Betting

  • Total Tote Betting up 22.1% from €79.3m to €96.8m

On-Course Betting

  • Bookmaker Betting (ring)  down 5.5% from €69.3m to €65.5
  • On-Course SP Shops down 1.9% from €10.6m to €10.4m
  • On-Course Tote Betting down 4.5% from €13.3m to €12.7m
  • Total On-Course Betting down 4.9% from €93.2m to €88.6m

In 2016 Tote Ireland saw a sixth successive year of turnover growth. Revenue grew 22% from €79.3m to €96.8m in the year. This growth was driven by betting into Irish pools from international markets and customers. On-course betting declined by 4.5%, reflecting the continuing challenge being experienced by all on-course operators. Significant investment is planned in 2017 to modernise on-course Tote services to provide improved experiences for customers. 

Strong growth in Pick 6 sales of 165% helped boost overall turnover with several pools exceeding €500,000 throughout the year, culminating in a record breaking pool of almost €2.2m on September 25th in the Curragh. All profits from Tote Ireland’s operation go directly back in to benefit Irish racing and Tote Ireland sponsored races at nine different racecourses in 2016, the highlight being TheTote.com Galway Plate.  

On-course bookmaker betting unfortunately continued to decline, although the figures towards the end of the year improved. Racecourses and bookmakers are working closer together to improve the way that this betting service is delivered, including for example, the positioning of bookmakers in corporate facilities and other areas away from the traditional betting ring. HRI will continue to assist in any way it can and recently announced a reduction in the on-course bookmakers levy.”

2016 Attendances and Fixtures

  • Total Attendances up 3.3% from 1.28m to 1.32m
  • Average Attendances up 1% from 3,625 to 3692
  • Fixtures up 1.7% from 351 to 357

“A strong Christmas with increased crowds at Leopardstown and Limerick, saw total attendances for the year increase by 3.3% which reflects well on the work being done by racecourses to attract customers to their meetings. Highlights of the year were the festivals at Punchestown, Galway and Listowel, along with Longines Irish Champions Weekend.  The smaller summer festivals and race meetings continue to perform strongly.” 

2016 Prize-money and Sponsorship

  • Prize-money up 6.3% from €53.4m to €56.8m
  • Commercial Sponsorship up 12% from €4.3m to €4.8m

Prize-money grew by 6.3% to €56.8m with a further 6.5% increase budgeted for 2017.  It should be noted, however, that this will simply return total prize-money to 2008 levels, when thirteen less fixtures were run. HRI remains committed to increasing prize-money and reducing administrative costs for owners and trainers in order to remain competitive with our European counterparts and to attract and retain racehorse owners. The growth in commercial sponsorship is very encouraging and shows that confidence in horse racing’s appeal as an advertising and promotional vehicle for business is strong, and we expect further gains in this area in 2017.

2016 was a very positive year for Irish racing and we are looking forward to building on this as we face the challenges and opportunities that are ahead of us in 2017.  For the first time ever, Irish-trained horses won the ‘big five’ races in Britain – the Champion Hurdle, Gold Cup, Grand National, Derby and Oaks, as well as numerous other Grade 1 races. We saw a record number of Irish-trained winners at both Cheltenham and Royal Ascot, and in October Aidan O’Brien completed an unprecedented clean sweep of the first three places in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Off the track, significant developments included the conclusion of a long term (up to 2023) media rights deal for Irish racing, the granting of planning permission for the new Curragh development and the commitment by the Government of a further €6m to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund. On a sadder note, 2016 saw racing lose a lot of friends, including John Thomas McNamara who passed away in July following his long battle with injuries sustained at Cheltenham in 2013.

Horse racing generates a very significant return to the rural economy in Ireland and positive international profile for our country. In 2017, HRI will continue to build on the growth achieved in 2016 and to tackle the challenges, particularly in relation to funding, employment levels, ownership and integrity. None of this success could be achieved without the support provided by Government through the Horse and Greyhound Fund, and HRI believes that this can be fully funded through betting duty which, as the statistics show, increased by 63% this year, following the introduction of new off-shore betting tax legislation in 2015.

2016 Irish Thoroughbred Racing Industry Statistics 

 

2016

2015

Variance

Bloodstock sales at public auction

€164.2m

€152.5m

7.7%

Value of Irish-foaled exported horses sold through auction

 €272.9m

€267.7m

1.9%

Number of countries to which Irish-foaled

horses sold through auction were exported

36

33

9%

Fixtures

357

351

1.7%

Races

2,577

2,522  

2.2%

Total Entries
Flat Entries
National Hunt Entries

58,316

27,035

31,281

54,880
25,199
29,681

6.3%
7.3%
5.4%

Eliminations

3,266

2,474

32%

Total runners
Flat Runners
National Hunt Runners

28,931

12,801

16,130

27,048
11,560
15,488

7%

10.7%
4.1%

Individual runners

7,014

6,633

5.7%

Individual winners

1,806

1,792

0.8%

Individual placed horses

4,013

3,892

3.1%

Field sizes

11.2

10.7

4.7%

 

 

 

 

Total horses-in-training

8,561

8,214

4.2%

Average horses-in-training

4,154

4,026

3.2%

Total owners

3663

3,609

1.5%

New owners

705

644

9.5%

Total prize-money

€56.8m

€53.4m

6.3%

Prize-money won in UK by Irish-trained horses

£15,332m

£10,892m

40.8%

Prize-money won in rest of world by Irish-trained horses

€10,727m

€5,320m

101%

 

 

   

 

Commercial sponsorship

€4.8m

€4.3m

12%

EBF sponsorship

€1.71m

€1.6m

7%

 

 

 

 

Total attendances

1.32m

1.28m

3.3%

Average attendance

3,692

3,625

1%

 

 

 

 

*Off-Course Betting Duty Receipts

€50.747m

€31.063m

63%

 

 

 

 

Total on-course betting (incl. tote)

€88.6m

€93.2m

(4.9%)

On-course bookmaker betting

€75.9m

€79.9m

(5%)

> Betting ring

€65.5m

€69.3m

(5.5%)

> On-course SP shops

€10.4m

€10.6m

(1.9%)

 

 

 

 

Total tote betting

€96.8m

€79.3m

22.1%

> On-course tote

€12.7m

€13.3m

(4.5%)

> Off-course tote (Irish pools)

€78.7m

€60.6m

29.9%

> Off-course tote (International pools)

€5.4m

€5.4m

 

 

*As betting duty is collected quarterly in arrears, this provision does not reflect the calendar year

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