Drop in attendance reported in HRI’s six-month Industry Statistics
Fewer training horses, reduced active owners and reduced attendance were reported by Horse Racing Ireland in the six-month Irish Thoroughbred Racing Industry Statistics, published on Thursday.
Attendance in the first half of 2022 was down 9% from 2019 levels while online bookmakers fell 10.3% and Tote Ireland revenue fell another 12.8%.
However, public auction sales of blood animals in Ireland continue to thrive, with figures for the first six months of the year up 31% from the most recent figure for 2019.
There were just three fewer games in the first six months of 2022 than there were in 2021. Even so, 1,508 fewer runners ran and the field size has dropped from an average of 12.5 per race to 12, 1 for the same time on both codes.
The number of horses trained in the first six months of this year compared to 2021 has decreased by 594 to 8,342. However, these numbers are still larger than the 7,206 pre-pandemic horses trained in the first six months of 2019.
Active owners are also up on pre-pandemic figures but there are 52 fewer active owners this year compared to last year while only 510 new owners registered in the first six months of 2022 compared to last year. with 637 owners in the same period in 2021.
Funding activity is inching towards pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, race funding reached 4.2 million euros. That figure fell to 1.5 million euros in the first six months of last year but more than double the same period in 2022 at 3.1 million euros.
Attendance has not returned to pre-pandemic levels. A total of 505,752 people came to the gate in the first six months of 2022 compared to 555,475 people in 2019.
Horse Racing Ireland CEO Suzanne Eade acknowledged the industry has had a challenging few years but praised the resilience shown among stakeholders.
She said, “After a few challenging years, hard work and drive across the industry have meant that racing in Ireland is in a strong position to face the combined challenges of these competitors. lingering effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, Brexit and an increase in the overall cost of living.
“During the first half of last year, our racing schedule adjusted to reflect the growing need, particularly in the National Hunt field, to provide racing opportunities for the growing number of horses. A significant number of additional races were planned to allow horses that could not be tracked to compete on the track. That necessity no longer exists, and it is saying that all entries, runners, and field sizes are tracking before the same comparable time period of January to June 2019. “
Eade added, “I highly recommend that the number of active owners has grown well as we continue to attract a healthy number of new owners with 510 subscribers in the first six months of 2022, a significant figure in the face of many economic uncertainties. Again, these numbers are far above the pre-Covid levels of 2019.
“What has dropped, 9%, is attendance compared to 2019. Many sport and leisure sectors have faced the challenge of returning to pre-Covid levels of attendance and Irish racing is not exempt. infected with that. It’s a challenge everyone will face, and over the past few weeks we’ve been running a strong media marketing campaign to engage attendees throughout the summer. I have seen many instances of innovation and strong engagement from racetracks over the past few weeks and months and am confident that the interest we know about racing will translate into attending races. .
“Tote betting totals increased to 31.9 million euros showing the benefits of strategic alliance with Tote UK and offline betting on groups in Ireland increased by 21.3% in 2019 census. However, bets on, of course, for both Tote and bookmakers, are down compared to pre-Pandemic 2019 figures.
“Bloodstock sales have been doing very well, especially at the National Hunt store, with a figure of €62.5 million for public auctioned horses. This reflects the high confidence of domestic and international buyers in horses bred, bred and prepared in Ireland. This also far exceeds, by more than 30%, of the €47.7 million recorded in the first six months of 2019.”