The Irish breeding and racing industry generates over €1.8bn in economic activity and supports almost 29,000 jobs.
According to an economic impact study conducted by Deloitte on behalf of Horse Racing Ireland, Irish racing and breeding is among the most prominent in the world.
Second only to the US, Ireland was the biggest seller of bloodstock at public auctions last year by value. More than 20% of the top 100 flat horses in the world were Irish bred. Ireland also boasts many of the world’s leading breeders, trainers and jockeys.
The study found that the industry plays a key role in supporting the rural economy, proving 9,500 jobs in the core industry and a further 5,700 jobs in directly related roles, including those in equine science and veterinary, farriers, and horse transport. When off-course betting and secondary employment are included, the total number of jobs supported comes to 28,900.
Close to €200m of bloodstock was sold overseas at public auction by Irish vendors, which, when taken together with private sales, nomination, and keep fees, results in effective exports of over €370m — larger than many other forms of agriculture.
Some 1.3m people attended the 356 race meetings at the 26 racecourses in Ireland last year — second only to the GAA championship in terms of attendance. More than 7,000 Irish people have an involvement in horse ownership and 25% of the country’s adult population have an interest in racing.
Despite the recession of the past decade, the report estimates that over €330m has been invested in breeding and racing facilities and infrastructure, nearly €100m of this from racecourses, with substantial future investment in progress.
Horse Racing Ireland chairman Joe Keeling said the industry needs to focus on ensuring that a long-term funding structure is put in place for the future.
“The headline figures in this new report back up the assertion that breeding and racing in Ireland is a unique industry with a wide rural reach and a sizeable economic impact at home, but also one that continues to set global standards on many of the most important measures for our sector,” said Mr Keeling.
“Notwithstanding our success, and the popularity of racing, the most important issue that needs to be addressed is to put in place a long-term and sustainable funding structure for the industry which can allow it to be developed to its fullest potential, increasing both the economic and social dividend for the country.”
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