Irish spend €22m at Cheltenham national hunt

Study shows people in Ireland bought 57,000 tickets for the four-day festival last year

A study of the Cheltenham national hunt festival by Gloucestershire University in the UK shows Irish people bought 57,375 tickets for the 2016 festival.

A study of the Cheltenham national hunt festival by Gloucestershire University in the UK shows Irish people bought 57,375 tickets for the 2016 festival.

 

Irish racing fans spend more than €22 million at the annual Cheltenham national hunt festival, according to a new survey.

A study of the four-day meeting’s economic impact by Gloucestershire University in the UK shows Irish people bought 57,375 tickets for the 2016 festival. Irish racegoers spent €22.3 million over the course of the week, with €5.23 million of it on entertainment, including betting.

Last year, 12,750 Irish-based people bought an average of 4.5 tickets each while 14,343 visitors from this country attended each day of the festival.

According to Ian Renton, southwest regional director of Britain’s Jockey Club, the racecourse’s owner, noted that bookings were positive for this year’s festival, which begins on March 14th.

Significant role

Mr Renton said tickets for the meeting’s Gold Cup Day, March 17th, are almost sold out, which is ahead of the position at this time last year, while bookings for the other three days are in line with 2016.

He noted that the economic impact study demonstrated the “very significant ongoing role played by Irish fans to success of the festival”.

Mr Renton also confirmed that the Jockey Club discussed British racing’s concerns at Brexit’s potential impact with parliamentary under secretary for exiting the EU, George Bridges, and the UK’s department for environment, food and rural affairs.

He said that maintaining an agreement between the Republic, UK and France allowing racehorses to move freely between the three jurisdictions was a priority.

Irish-bred racehorses

British owners spent €225 million buying Irish-bred racehorses last year and breeders fear a hard Brexit could hit returns and create barriers to this trade.

Irish-trained horses won 15 of the 28 races run at last year’s Cheltenham festival. The Willie Mullins-trained Annie Power won the Champion Hurdle, the opening day showpiece, while Don Cossack, trained by Gordon Elliott and owned by Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary’s Gigginstown Stud, captured its biggest prize, the Gold Cup.