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Value of point-to-points highlighted in HRI and Deloitte report

Value of point-to-points highlighted in HRI and Deloitte report

Horse Racing Ireland and Deloitte launched their comprehensive report on the impact the Irish horse racing industry has for the wider national economy.

Titled ‘Economic Impact of Irish Breeding and Racing 2017’ there are a number of headline figures contained within the 64-page report such as the €1.84 billion of total expenditure which was generated by Irish breeding and racing in 2016, the 28,900 jobs supported by the industry which are spread across each county of the country and the €370 million total of breeding and racing exports annually, representing a sizeable foreign direct investment.

The impact of point-to-point racing in Ireland was examined in the report and its importance for the sector very much highlighted as a net contributor to the overall industry.

You can read extracts from the point-to-point section below:

"Point to point racing has long been a source of horses, riders and trainers for racing under rules. Taking place at 70 locations across the island, pointto-point meetings also contribute significantly to many rural communities as one of the biggest events in the local calendar.

The current autumn point-to-point calendar developed in 2001 when the foot and mouth crisis led to the traditional spring season being cancelled. The autumn season proved successful and has therefore remained.

The quality of horses graduating from pointto-point racing has significantly improved since the autumn season format commenced with a number of winners of the top Jumps races in Ireland and Great Britain including multiple winners of the Cheltenham Gold Cup.


The number of races run and runners have declined by 24% (192 fewer races) and 43% (4,094 fewer runners) respectively over the last 5 seasons. Individual horses running have also declined by over 1,000 (30%).

This decline is due to the general economic downturn and a related lack of supply of available bloodstock following the drop in foal production from c.2009. The youngest age for a horse to run in point-to-point/National Hunt racing is four, and therefore there is a four year ‘lag’ effect before these horses make it to the track.

Owners, trainers and riders

As for races and runners, the number of point-to-point related licenses issued by the Turf Club has also declined over the last five years – hunter certificates (required for a horse to run in a point-to-point race), amateur riders and handlers (point-to-point trainers) licenses all being affected.

The majority of owners in point-to-point racing train their horses as a stepping stone to running under Rules. As such, whilst owners’ expenses are not to the level for a horse in training under Rules, the quality of horses necessitates that high standards of training and facilities are maintained.


Attendances at point-to-point meetings can reach several thousand at the most popular fixtures, although the average is estimated as c.1,000. Over c.100 fixtures p.a. this will total c.100,000 attendees per season.

Whilst racegoer expenditure will not be as high as on Rules racecourses, once admission, transport, racecards and food and drink are included, on average each attendee is estimated to spend in excess of €20, representing €2m+ in total.

Quality of horses, trainers and jockeys

The success of horses graduating from pointto-point racing is illustrated by 1,127 ex-Irish point-to-pointers winning under Rules in 2015/16, with 66 of these wins coming in graded races, an increase of 317 wins (39%) over the past five years.

The winner of the 2017 Grand National at Aintree, One For Arthur, was an Irish pointto-point graduate, and over the last five years 25 Cheltenham Festival winners have been graduates of the Irish point-to-point scene. Several leading trainers and jockeys also commenced their racing careers in Irish point-to-points including, amongst others, Aidan O’Brien and Ruby Walsh.

Bloodstock sales

Point to pointing provides a valuable source of quality young National Hunt horses to the Racing industry. Four year old maidens at point-to-points in particular have provided a rich source of younger horses that have gone on to achieve success in full training, and the sport provides a valuable service in providing a “shop window” for such horses.

The increase in quality of horses graduating from point-to-point racing has also had a significant impact on the value of these horses as they pass through the sales ring. From a total sales value of c.€4m in 2010/11 values for 2016/17 reached €15m, and when private sales, estimated as c.€6m in 2016/17, are also included this brings the total sales value of Irish point-to-point graduates to over €20m. The vast majority of these sales will be from Irish owners and breeders selling their bloodstock on to Irish and British owners, sales to the latter representing foreign investment into Ireland.

A number of these successful sales take place after racing at the major Irish and British festivals and have been increasingly successful, adding further colour to these occasions."

The Deloitte report also highlighted the horse racing industry in Northern Ireland, an area which is going to come under significant focus in the coming months and years as plans over Brexit are formulated between Britain and the EU. Point-to-Point racing in Northern Ireland also featured within this section.

“Breeding and Racing is structured and managed on a 32 county basis in Ireland which provides organisational and practical advantages. An indication of the current scale of Breeding and Racing in Northern Ireland (“NI”) and its wider economic contribution, together with brief details of its largest challenge and potential for growth are set out below.

The metrics contained in the table below illustrate that whilst NI represents a relatively small proportion of the total industry across Ireland (typically 2-3%, compared to 25% of the combined population of Ireland), this is largely a function of the large size of the industry in the Republic of Ireland (“ROI”). In absolute terms it has a significant economic footprint and is responsible for sizeable levels of employment in NI, spread across the six counties. It has also produced some of racing’s most successful participants, including AP McCoy and Richard Dunwoody. There are an estimated 6,500+ horse movements across the Irish border each year, primarily made up of horses running at racecourses and in point-to-point meetings, and NI owned mares visiting stallions in the ROI. It is important for the health of the industry in NI that the current ease of movement is protected as part of a Brexit solution.

Funding challenge

Gambling is a devolved issue for NI, with the Assembly determining the fiscal and regulatory aspects of the betting industry. NI betting operators benefit from the absence of the 10% levy on gross win from betting on British Racing that is paid by other United Kingdom betting operators. NI operators do not contribute to any ROI taxation, but HRI makes contributions to the two racecourses – effectively an element of ROI taxation of 1% of turnover of all bets.

The only significant racing betting related tax/ charge for NI LBOs is the amount paid to the Horse Racing Fund, set by the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs. This is currently £1,123 per shop, which given the c.330 shops in NI generates c.£370,000 per year, which is considerably lower than the equivalent figure for the rest of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. The fee had previously been over £2,000 per shop, with Racing lobbying for over £4,000.

The Horse Racing Fund is distributed to the two racecourses for certain prescribed racing related purposes. The current payments are considered by the Racing industry to be wholly inadequate and despite extra HRI funding, has resulted in the deferral of investment in racecourse facilities and reductions in other expenditure.

Growth potential

Whilst it is unrealistic in the foreseeable future for Breeding and Racing in NI to be comparable on a per capita basis to the ROI, there is potential for significant growth given the right conditions – both in the wider economy and industry structure.

A satisfactory solution to the funding issue would not only help to protect the current industry, but ultimately provide funding to establish enabling conditions for growth, which could include the strengthening of the racing programme (via prize money), investment in racecourse facilities, marketing of the sport and support of the education and development of the racing workforce.

Whether through overall growth in the all-Ireland industry and/or an element of migration to NI, each 1% of total expenditure would equate to an additional £10m+ in expenditure in the Northern Irish economy.

You can re-watch the launch of the report which featured contributions from Alan Switzer, Director for Deloitte Sports Business Group, HRI Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh, and Minister for Agriculture, Food and Marine Michael Creed below:

To download the full report, please click HERE


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