The latest figures issued by Horse Racing Ireland(HRI) show that Bloodstock sales, Tote betting and racecourse attendances all grew over the past year.
It is the first time since 2007 that the industry has received such positive news in so many different areas. Irish-foaled horses were exported to 35 countries compared to 34 in 2010. Bloodstock sales at public auction in Ireland were €81 million, up 19% from €68 million in 2010.
Reports claim that up to €112 million of bloodstock was sold by Irish vendors at auction in Britain and France. The total value of Irish-foaled exported horses sold at public auction was €156.5 million, up 6.5% from €146.9 million.
Racecourse attendances also increased and were up by 40,000 at 1.24 million compared to 1.20 million in 2010. The average attendance at race meetings in 2011 was 3,682, up 3% from 3,586.
Tote betting was €51.1 million, up 11.3% from €45.9 million. This is atributed to the fact that there are more pools on offer for punters to bet into.
The number of new owners taking interest in the sport came in at 777, just one more than 2010. However, total active ownership dropped by 8% from 4,667 to 4,278.The average number of horses in training also fell, from 5,769 to 5,030, the lowest number in ten years.
Bookmakers’ betting on-course fell from €107.4 million to €97.5million, while prize-money fell from €46.0 million to €44.4 million.
Horse Racing Ireland CEO, Brian Kavanagh said: “The 2011 figures contain some welcome news for an industry which has endured heavy cutbacks and difficult trading conditions in recent years.
“The growth in racecourse attendance is particularly welcome given the pressure that leisure and retail markets generally have been under and I congratulate the racecourses who have worked hard to attract and retain race-goers.
“Strong bloodstock sales overall and growth in the value of exports for Irish-bred horses show that the reputation and value of the Irish thoroughbred remains high and this gives us confidence that this figure will continue to grow.
The weakness of the horses in training figure, however, is a cause for real concern as this is the area where rural employment is most affected. This is one of the many challenges which must be addressed in the coming year.”