Dublin Horse Show lines up sponsors for €4m event

The five-day equestrian festival sources 20 per cent of its funding from brands

Connemara pony ‘Rocky Cashel’ with model Gracie at the launch of the 2015 Dublin Horse Show. Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall

Connemara pony ‘Rocky Cashel’ with model Gracie at the launch of the 2015 Dublin Horse Show. Photograph: Mark Stedman/Photocall

 

Amid corporate hospitality, trade stands, fashion-forward millinery and serious show-jumping, the Dublin Horse Show at the RDS Showgrounds will not be shy of sponsor logos.

The self-financing, not-for-profit festival of all things equestrian typically costs about €4 million to run and the RDS seeks to cover 20 per cent of that total (€800,000) from sponsorships, large and small.

“It is important that we achieve that target every year. Sponsorships are a really significant part of the commercial model of the Horse Show,” says Michele Griffin, commercial director of the RDS. As the event becomes more ambitious, it also becomes more costly, she notes.

There has been “very little churn” in its biggest supporters, Griffin adds. Discover Ireland, the domestic tourism brand of Fáilte Ireland, is once again the title sponsor of this year’s event, which begins next Wednesday, August 5th, and runs until Sunday.

“We’re trying to position Ireland as ‘the event island’, whether it’s sport or music, and the Dublin Horse Show fits into that,” says Fáilte Ireland head of communications Alex Connolly.

Apart from generating hotel bed nights and retail activity, the Dublin Horse Show “adds variety” to the agency’s promotion roster, while also sending out a message overseas that Ireland is “the island of the horse”, Connolly says.

New sponsors signed up for 2015 include specialist bank and asset manager Investec, local wine merchant Cassidy Wines and Dundrum Town Centre, which will sponsor next Thursday’s Ladies’ Day.

Long-term relationships

Griffin says she hopes these brands “would come back next year” and form the kind of long-term relationships that the horse show has with Fáilte Ireland: Longines, the luxury watch and jewellery brand that sponsors competition timing and Sunday’s Grand Prix; and Land Rover, which sponsors Saturday’s Puissance high-jump competition.

Friday’s flagship event, meanwhile, goes by the full title of the Furusiyya FEI Nations Cup. FEI is the international federation for equestrian sports and Furusiyya is the brand name for the Saudi Equestrian Fund. Although Nations Cup events take place across several countries, people like the “pageantry” of the Dublin leg of the calendar, says Griffin.

Competitions televised

The five-day event, the 142nd in its history, is expected to attract more than 100,000 visitors next week, with many of its competitions televised.

According to the RDS, 62 per cent of its visitors are female and 70 per cent are aged 35-plus.

About 35 per cent come from Leinster, 58 per cent from the rest of Ireland and 7 per cent from overseas.

Equestrian fans are loyal to the event, with a high proportion of its attendees – human and equine – expected to be repeat visitors.