The Importance of Horse Racing to The Irish Economy

Horse racing, as everyone knows, is big business in Ireland. You could even go as far as calling it a hub of the thoroughbred industry, even though the country itself only has a population of around 4.8 million.

It’s estimated that nearly 30,000 people are working within the horse racing industry and that it does provide an undeniable boost to the country’s economy.

According to Brian Kavanagh, the Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, the country is the “third largest producer of thoroughbreds in the world.” This, when you think about it, is quite amazing for such a small country, and clearly shows how integral the industry is to the economy too.

Kavanagh also spoke about the trading of horses too and suggested that Ireland “is the second highest in terms of the value of the horses sold” in the world. When you break this down, you’re comparing Ireland, a country with a population of less than 5 million, to places like America which has a population exceeding 300 million. This tells its own story, as does the fact that there are said to be 50 thoroughbreds per 10,000 people in Ireland according to a study produced by Deloitte.

Ireland really is a country that is all about racing, not to mention betting on racing. One in four people who live there who were asked, said that they had an interest in the sport, and its roots are spread throughout the country, even into the more rural communities and towns. As things stand, horse racing and breeding is said to generate around €1.8 billion per year. It’s a hugely successful business on an international scale.

In 2016, 36 different countries benefited from horses that they imported from Ireland, according to Horse Racing Ireland, and bloodstock sales also grew for a seventh consecutive year. The exporting side of the industry is a huge money maker for the country and one that they have relied on for many years now. Ireland has all the raw ingredients such as the right climate and soil structure, as well as experienced people, to raise thoroughbreds for many years to come.

The main concern surrounding the industry right now is the impact that Brexit has. There has long been a lot of business to take place between Ireland and Britain when it comes to horse racing. That includes Irish horses coming over to Britain to race in some of the biggest events in the calendar, as well as the trading of horses.

This could all possibly be under threat with Brexit now on the horizon. It would likely be damaging to the industry in Ireland, but there is still plenty of time for them to adjust and look to move in another direction. The uncertainty surrounding the situation is going to pose questions but Horse Racing Ireland can certainly develop more on the international side, which in turn will help to protect the quality of those that are being bred.