Gloomy 2012 figures include dramatic dip in on-course betting


RACING:On the eve of Irish racing’s eagerly anticipated first big weekend of 2013, the industry’s 2012 statistics provided a gloomy prelude when released yesterday.

Horse Racing Ireland’s figures confirmed yet another dramatic dip in on-course betting with HRI chief executive Brian Kavanagh declaring that without betting taxation reform the on-course sector’s very future is “doubtful”.  On-course bookmakers endured a massive 22 per cent dip in turnover last year, from €95.5 million to €76 million. That is just the latest in a continuing slide from a peak of €129.4 million five years ago.

Tote turnover grew on-course in 2012 but mainly through international co-mingling and overall on-course betting dropped by almost 21 per cent to €98.4 million.

There were also sobering numbers on the attendance front with total crowds down 3.4 per cent to 1.2 million but the average is down over 7 per cent to 3,416, something HRI put down to 14 additional winter fixtures at Dundalk.

Ireland’s horse population also decreased to 9,238, a drop of 6 per cent, while ownership levels dipped by almost 12 per cent to 3,779. However, racing’s ruling body pointed to the sales ring as reason for optimism with bloodstock sales up over 15 per cent to €93.5 million. “Irish horses and racing professionals continue to dominate the world stage, which is driving international demand for our bloodstock,” Brian Kavanagh said.

“While demand for Irish bloodstock continues to grow, the reality is the majority of that demand is from overseas and for export. Particularly on the flat, we need to encourage more international owners to keep horses in training and breeding stock in Ireland,” he added.

Prize-money levels in Ireland last year were up slightly to just shy of €5 million.

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