Updated: February 12, 2018
On February 6th it was announced that Racing UK will cover Irish racing from 2019. Racing UK and (HRI) Horse Racing Ireland have stated the new deal will be in place for five years.
Horse Racing in Ireland
In the Irish horse racing calendar, there are roughly 360 meeting each year. These meetings take place at one of Irelands 26 racecourses. Highlights in the Irish racing calendar include The Grand National, The Galway Races, and Punchestown Festival.
As an industry horse racing in Ireland is worth nearly $2 billion dollars. Making it an important of the Irish economy. Horse Racing in Ireland also accounts for 29,000 jobs directly and indirectly. This is despite economic hardship in Ireland over the last few years. Speaking about the significance of horse racing in Ireland Brian Kavanagh (HRI) said “Ireland is the third largest producer of thoroughbred horses in the world, which is quite incredible for a small country.” and that “It is the second highest in terms of the value of the horses sold, so when you take the fact that it’s a country of four-and-a-half million people, compared to places like the United States and Australia, it shows the relative importance of horse racing in Ireland.”
According to international firm Deloitte, there are 50 thoroughbred horses per 10,000 people. This is a higher ratio than in other racing countries like France and the UK. During these prosperous years for Irish horse racing, T.V viewership also increased. Sky TV channel At The Races has provided daily coverage and analysis for every Irish meeting. Now 2018 will be the last year Irish horse racing appears on ATR.
The future of Irish horse racing
Racing UK is set to take over coverage of Irish horse racing at a pivotal time. 2017 proved a tremendous year for horse racing especially, during Cheltenham. At Cheltenham 2017, Irish horses made history and racked up an impressive 19 wins. It is these strong performances that are keeping horse racing alive. Attendance at Irish meeting remains steady at over 1 million people each year. Meaning that 2018 is on track to be another good year for the sport. ATR will certainly be hoping to boost attendance for their final year providing covering.
Another huge influencing factor for the future of Irish horse racing is the gambling sector. For many Irish horse racing enthusiasts, placing a bet is all part of the day. Betting in Ireland has always been big business. As gambling moves online and more punters ‘go mobile’ revenues may increase. Mobile betting offerings have rapidly expanded over the years. Starting first with online casino games and now sportsbook. Many popular online casino sites now offer punters a whole new range of exciting bets. Easy to do without the hassle of queues, mobile betting is even becoming popular at horse racing meetings. Gavin Kelleher of Goodbody stockbrokers reckons that mobile betting in Ireland is worth €220 million. Revenues are likely to increase with further innovations in mobile technology.
Online gambling companies are usually the main sponsors of races at huge festivals like Cheltenham. TV3 Horse racing has even been sponsored by online gambling giants Paddy Power. Paddy Power’s sponsorship deal has been described as worth a “significant six-figure deal”. However, Paddy Power unlike Racing UK, has not secured a deal for five years.
Racing UK’s rights deal will only come into effect in 2019. Meaning that mobile betting and high profile sponsorships will dominate the immediate future of horse racing.