Irish horse racing sector delivers sustained growth, increased employment and foreign direct investment - new research carried out by Deloitte on behalf of HRI


Racing sector estimated to deliver €2.46bn to Irish economy
30,350 jobs linked directly and indirectly to Irish horse racing
Ireland enjoys leadership status in global racing sector

In a new report published, based on research carried out by Deloitte, leading advisors to the sports business market, for Horse Racing Ireland (HRI), Ireland’s thoroughbred horse racing sector shows sustained growth across multiple measures. 

The sector, including breeding, training, racing, and ancillary activities, delivered €2.46bn to the economy in direct and stimulated expenditure in 2022, up 34% from 2016, and supports a total of 30,350 jobs, an increase of 1,450 in that same period.With the breeding sector generating revenues of €819m, €264m spent by owners in training and running their horses, and €193m through racegoer spending both on and off course, the sector is providing economic stimulus across the country. Testament to Ireland’s outstanding reputation as a location for breeding and racing is the country’s 2022 position as the second largest territory by value for global public bloodstock sales. With €538m in sales achieved last year, Ireland is second only to the USA.

The attraction of horse racing is also evidenced by attendances at racecourses around the country. Looking at festival attendance in isolation, the top attended festivals in 2022 attracted a combined attendance figure of over half a million people. 

The number of owners and horses in training also shows significant resilience. In 2022 there were 4,757 active owner accounts in Ireland, a significant increase from the 2016 figure of 3,663. Deloitte research shows that the active owner accounts in 2022 represented 13,592 individuals and 10,208 horses that were registered in training during the year.

Speaking about the report, Nicky Hartery, Chairman of HRI, said:

“Ireland’s global position in racing, from fledgling status a few short decades ago, is today a strong one. Last year the industry was responsible for over €550m of foreign direct investment, which points to the stability this industry offers to international investors.

“With the continued investment, expertise, and passion of Ireland’s racing sector, we aim to expand the global market for Irish thoroughbreds, create an even bigger domestic footprint to continue to deliver for the rural economy, and demonstrably lead the sector on key measures of equine welfare and sustainability.”

In the six years to the end of 2022 it is estimated that capital expenditure in the breeding and racing industry hit €265m. This money was invested in both facilities and infrastructure to maintain Irish racing’s position as a premier breeding and racing territory.  As well as supporting local businesses, this investment protects the industry’s global status. 

Looking specifically at racecourse capital investments, almost €110m was invested over the period 2017 to 2022 with €57m in funding provided by HRI. This included projects in Galway, Punchestown, Naas, Leopardstown, and Roscommon, with a total of 20 racecourses receiving grant aid from HRI. The sector also generates income from overseas. Of the estimated €125m of capital investment by breeders and bloodstock auction houses in the six years to 2022, an estimated 45% came from overseas investors.

Suzanne Eade, CEO of HRI, commented:

“The figures from the research carried out by Deloitte on behalf of HRI demonstrate the significance of racing and breeding to the rural economy and is testament to decades of consistent Government support. 

“Behind the significant economic impact and our global reputation is a hugely skilled workforce, dedicated to the horses in their care. Our industry supports in excess of 30,000 FTEs, 9,400 of those in the core industry, making their living as a direct or indirect result from the racing and breeding industry.

“We are acutely aware that racing and breeding is a very competitive and mobile industry. We will continue to work with Government and all stakeholders to maintain our competitive advantage and Ireland’s reputation as global leaders at breeding and training racehorses.”

Racing sector estimated to deliver €2.46bn to Irish economy 30,350 jobs linked directly and indirectly to Irish horse racing Ireland enjoys leadership status in global racing sector