Cancellations having huge financial impact at racetracks


RACING’S CURRENT ‘white-out’ may be irritating to betting shop punters but it is having a much deeper impact on racetracks and those people reliant on racing going ahead.

Sunday’s scheduled John Durkan Memorial Chase is one of the winter features on Punchestown’s racing calendar but hopes are fading that the fixture will take place as scheduled.

The racecourse estimates a cancellation could cost them up to €70,000 directly, as well as having an impact on many people working on-course on the day.

“There is a large group of people that we hire for a day’s racing. Over 20 people have to be on track. Two fence stewards have to attend each of the 11 fences. We have five contract security staff and six contract people working the car parks. Then we have people on the stiles as well as those working in the bars and restaurants,” the Punchestown manager Richie Galway said yesterday.

“But there’s an impact further on from that. For instance we’ve pulled the advertising we were planning in local papers and on local radio as we can’t be sure about racing going ahead. That has a knock-on effect.

“We never see a 5,000 crowd here outside the festival but I had certainly been hoping for a crowd of over 4,000 on Sunday, especially on the back of a fund-raising event held here by the local Ballymore parish,” he added.

Irish racecourses get over €30,000 in television money for each fixture, and that money is guaranteed, even if the meeting is run off on a different date. But rescheduling has an automatic impact on attendances.

“Anyone will tell you, holding an event on another date simply doesn’t work the same. Even if it is something like your local bingo. And it is certainly true in racing,” Fairyhouse manager Peter Roe said yesterday, after postponing his “Winter Festival” card for the second time.

Up to 160 people were due to work at Fairyhouse over last Saturday and Sunday before weather conditions intervened for the third time in the last five years.

Fairyhouse’s marketing team had also organised a 100,000 leaflet drop to houses in Dublin, Meath and Kildare which turned out to be fruitless.

“If the meeting is eventually run off, we will get the TV money but there are other impacts. Our restaurants were booked out on Saturday and Sunday. That business is gone. Meath Tourism had invested a considerable five-figure sum which resulted in 25 individual exhibitions being set up here last Friday. It all looked great, and everyone had to go home. All that’s a write off,” Roe added.