John Flannelly, Ballinrobe Racecourse Manager was among those welcoming a new report, based on research carried out by Deloitte, leading advisors to the sports business market, for Horse Racing Ireland (HRI). Ireland’s thoroughbred horse racing sector shows sustained growth across multiple measures.
The sector, including breeding, training, racing, and ancillary activities, delivered €2.46bn to the economy in direct and stimulated expenditure in 2022, up 34% from 2016, and supports a total of 30,350 jobs, an increase of 1,450 in that same period.
With the breeding sector generating revenues of €819m, €264m spent by owners in training and running their horses, and €193m through racegoer spending both on and off course, the sector is providing economic stimulus across the country. Testament to Ireland’s outstanding reputation as a location for breeding and racing is the country’s 2022 position as the second largest territory by value for global public bloodstock sales. With €538m in sales achieved last year, Ireland is second only to the USA.
The attraction of horse racing is also evidenced by attendances at racecourses around the country. Looking at festival attendance in isolation, the top attended festivals in 2022 attracted a combined attendance figure of over half a million people.
The number of owners and horses in training also shows significant resilience. In 2022 there were 4,757 active owner accounts in Ireland, a significant increase from the 2016 figure of 3,663. Deloitte research shows that the active owner accounts in 2022 represented 13,592 individuals and 10,208 horses that were registered in training during the year.
Commenting on the economic impact of the breeding and racing industry in Mayo, Ballinrobe Racecourse Manager John Flannelly, said: “In Ballinrobe we have 10 fixtures per year and we would attract approximately 23,000 visitors to Ballinrobe. Ballinrobe races has become synonymous with visitors coming to the West of Ireland. We have invested a lot of money in our facilities at the track and this has stood to us, I think the industry and the race going public appreciate that. We also have huge local support and are very much involved in our local communities. We look after groups such as the GAA, rugby, cycling and athletics which all take part at various stages throughout the year in Ballinrobe. If you have your community behind you, they will look after you also.”
Suzanne Eade, CEO of HRI, commented: “The figures from the research carried out by Deloitte on behalf of HRI demonstrate the significance of racing and breeding to the rural economy and is testament to decades of consistent Government support.
“Behind the significant economic impact and our global reputation is a hugely skilled workforce, dedicated to the horses in their care. Our industry supports in excess of 30,000 FTEs, 9,400 of those in the core industry, making their living as a direct or indirect result from the racing and breeding industry.
“Racing has a huge impact on the rural economy, none more so than County Mayo. There are 49 registered breeders and three licensed trainers located within the county and Ballinrobe Racecourse, which hosts both competitive Flat and National Hunt race meetings throughout the summer, attracts in the region of 23,000 racegoers every year, providing an important social and sporting outlet to its patrons and the local community.
“We are acutely aware that racing and breeding is a very competitive and mobile industry. We will continue to work with Government and all stakeholders to maintain our competitive advantage and Ireland’s reputation as global leaders at breeding and training racehorses.”