Racetracks — The Heart and Soul of Irish Economy

Unowhatimeanharry on his way to victory in the Ladbrokes Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown. Credit: Racing Post Photos/Irish Racing Resources.

As a heatwave spreads throughout the world, horse races continue with precautions. As horses are getting ready to run the next race, the Regional Economic Impact Study shows that equine racing in Ireland is not only a beloved sport. The races are a thrill for the locals and a significant factor of economic growth in the midlands.


Horse races in Ireland have become more than just a popular spectator sport. Horse racing is interlaced with Irish culture and history. Since the first mention of chariot racing in ancient Curragh until the first establishment of recourse during the 17th century, Irish tracks have seen numerous winning horses, trainers, and spectators enjoying races. 


The islanders consider the equine sport exciting and thrilling; Irish passion for horse racing matches the adrenaline rush caused by spinning the reels on top online slots. In a recent study conducted by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) and Deloitte, the results showed a significant impact on the economic growth of the horse racing and breeding industries. HRI is dedicated to cultivating and supporting horse racing which sustains the rural Ireland industry. 


The Tipperary county is notable for its tracks, 870 breeders, and world-famous stallions. The entire equine industry employs over 29,000 people. According to the allied research of HRI and Deloitte, horse breeding in the province comprises 34% of the nation’s total. The Tipperary hippodrome and horse breeding industry, which is bustling with people and horses from April to October each year, generates the annual income of €1.84 billion. 


While many countries around the world boast top horses, Ireland is the strongest producer and trainer of Thoroughbred horses. The early law mentioned that the islanders imported horses from Wales and France. The stories transferred from generation to generation say that islanders were fierce and never had saddles and thus, rode their horses bareback. 


The breeding sector today has changed since the early ages. The breeders on the island are elementary contributors to the rural economy. More than half of annual income comes from horse breeding in the midlands. Despite Brexit, Ireland saw a modest increase in over-border sales of 1.3%. There is a steady increase in the number of owners of horses, and their retention rate throughout the year is around 85%.


The top numbers list in the industry:


  1. Top Horse — Peregrine Run. The horse won €91,125 in five runs. 
  2. Top Trainer — Gordon Elliott. Won the total of €609,665 in 236 runs. 
  3. Top Jockey — P. Townend. Won the total of €331,423 in 63 runs. 


Recourse attendance increases steadily by 9% each year. There were 555,475 people attending the races in the first half of 2019. While the recourse dealt with visitors, the bookmakers dealt with €33 million in on-course betting. According to the officials, the prize money will be increased to attract more participants.


The Westmeath county boasts Kilbeggan racecourse often referred to as the “Heart of Ireland and the Soul of Racing.” Kilbeggan has been operating since 1840 and is one of the most famous tracks in the country. Horse tracks attract thousands of people. This year in mid-July, the prize for the National Hunt was €100,000. The special family and race day events like these attract tourists from neighboring countries, which, in the end, results in more business for the local hotels.


Brian Kavanagh, the HRI CEO, stated that the Irish flag had been waving in the world many times. Ireland is grateful for a truly remarkable multiple champion and trainer, Aidan O’Brien, and the legendary Coolmore Stud breeders. 


Despite the Brexit and the changes, Ireland is still one of the top horse exporters in the world. The islanders claim they are the third-largest horse breeder country on the globe and that the rural provinces nurture horses the right way. 


The multi-billion euro industry rests upon the backs of the animals which comprise the soul of racing tracks. Since the ancient times, horses have been deeply immersed in Irish culture, and the Irish cannot think of the land without the horses, which is apparent through the Irish proverb: “Never be without a horse.”


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