Thursday, July 14, 2005Contact: Tamarisk Doyle, HRI
(+353-45) 842841
Irish Race attendance up

6% Growth in Race attendances in June reverses decline in early part of year.

A record crowd of 47,000 for the Budweiser Irish Derby festival at the Curragh and a generally buoyant month of June gave a boost to attendance figures, following a small decline registered in preceding months. Attendances for the year to date are 549,000, 3% behind last year's figures.

While Tote betting grew by 3%, bookmakers (on-course) declined by 8%. Race Sponsorship grew to EUR3.55 million, an increase of 3%.

The key figures are as follows:-

  • Total Attendance 549,245 Down 16,737 -3%
  • Total Tote Betting EUR20.8m Up EUR0.6m +3%
  • Total Sponsorship EUR3.55m Up EUR0.12m +3%
  • Total Bookmaker Betting (On Course) EUR78.1 Down EUR6.6m -8%
  • Total Fixtures (excluding N.Ireland) 135 Up 2 +2%
  • Total number of races 1,039 Up 10 +1%
  • Total runners 14,658 Up 912 +7%
  • Total Prize Money EUR23.6m Down EUR0.3m -1% *
  • There are 8 extra fixtures in 2005 compared to 2004 (313 v 305)

    Due to the weighting of this increase into the second half of the year, the prizemoney variance will be picked up in the second half of the year.

    Commenting on the figures, Horse Racing Ireland Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh said: "A cold and wet start to the year has seen a drop in recorded race meeting attendance this year but with improved weather in June there are signs that attendance levels are returning to growth. June's attendance figure of 142,000 was 6% up on last year. Punchestown's April meeting and the Budweiser Irish Derby weekend set new attendance records showing the popular appeal of the Festival meetings and the effectiveness of focused development and promotion by racecourses."

    "We are operating in an increasingly competitive sport and leisure environment. The growth of new betting platforms combined with availability of TV pictures creates two competing effects - facilitating the stay at home punter while exposing the sport to bigger audiences. In this changing market racecourses are rising to the challenge with innovative raceday packages, improved facilities and enhancements such as the big screen which add greatly to the unbeatable spectacle of live racing. June's figures show that there is significant growth potential for the future."

    Brian Kavanagh concluded: "Irish trained horses enjoyed unprecedented success both at home and abroad during the first six months of this year. For the first time ever all five major UK National Hunt races were won by Irish horses and an all-time record of nine Irish trained winners at Cheltenham was followed by eight winners at Aintree. On the flat Aidan O'Brien won the English 2000 & 1000 Guineas and there were four Irish trained winners at Royal Ascot. At home Frances Crowley won the Boylesports 1000 Guineas - the first woman to train the winner of an Irish Classic. We are confident that our racing success will continue in the second half of 2005 and that the summer meetings, particularly the Festivals, will continue to draw record crowds."