AN ODDS-ON WIN­NER

A RE­CENT RE­PORT HAS HIGH­LIGHTED THE POS­I­TIVE ECO­NOMIC IM­PACT OF THE HORSERACIN­G AND BREED­ING IN­DUS­TRIES ON THE LO­CAL WICK­LOW ECON­OMY.

Wicklow People (West Edition) - - ANALYSIS - DAR­RAGH CLIF­FORD RE­PORTS

and rac­ing en­joys a rich tra­di­tion of suc­cess in the South East. As well as suc­cess on the track and in the breed­ing sheds, the in­dus­try pro­vides over 1,600 jobs in Wex­ford and Wick­low and over €80m in an­nual ex­pen­di­ture.

A thriv­ing area for breed­ers with over 1,500 mares, the re­gion has be­come a cen­tre of ex­cel­lence for pro­duc­ing the best young pointto-pointers.

A re­cent eco­nomic im­pact study by Deloitte into the breed­ing and rac­ing in­dus­try in Wex­ford and Wick­low has for the first time cap­tured the con­tri­bu­tion this in­dus­try makes to both coun­ties, both so­cially and eco­nom­i­cally.

The pres­ence of Wex­ford Race­course in the re­gion pro­vides the op­por­tu­nity for the lo­cal com­mu­nity to reg­u­larly at­tend fix­tures, whilst the Point-to-Point in­dus­try is well rep­re­sented, both in terms of rac­ing stages and also the pro­duc­tion of horses that de­velop in to top qual­ity Na­tional Hunt horses.

In pre­dom­i­nantly ru­ral re­gions such as Wex­ford and Wick­low, the breed­ing and rac­ing in­dus­try does not only con­trib­ute di­rectly to the lo­cal econ­omy through the ap­prox­i­mately 700 full time jobs that it sup­ports, but also through the many an­cil­lary sup­pli­ers that rely on the in­dus­try for the ma­jor­ity of their busi­ness.

A to­tal di­rect ex­pen­di­ture of €41m is es­ti­mated to be gen­er­ated in Wex­ford and Wick­low each year, the largest com­po­nent be­ing breed­ing (€29m).

The €41m of di­rect ex­pen­di­ture in turn leads to an ad­di­tional in­di­rect ex­pen­di­ture of €43m, com­posed of the sec­ondary busi­ness-to-busi­ness spend­ing of sup­pli­ers to the core breed­ing and rac­ing in­dus­try and sec­ondary con­sumer ex­pen­di­ture, as those peo­ple work­ing in the core in­dus­try spend their wages on lo­cal goods, ser­vices and ameni­ties.

This re­sults in a to­tal eco­nomic im­pact on Wex­ford and Wick­low of €84m.

RACECOURSE­S

The only race­course in the re­gion is in Wex­ford town, host­ing jump fix­tures from March to Oc­to­ber. The course at­tracts in ex­cess of 14,000 at­ten­dees over 10 fix­tures, with an es­ti­mated ex­pen­di­ture of over €1m at­trib­ut­able to their on-course ac­tiv­i­ties.

The main com­po­nents of this are the gen­eral ad­mis­sions and cater­ing spend or race­go­ers, along­side me­dia rights pay­ments for the pro­vi­sion of pic­tures to the bet­ting in­dus­try.

In ad­di­tion to the di­rect on-course ex­pen­di­ture, rac­ing in Wex­ford gen­er­ates ap­prox­i­mately €0.3m of race-goer off-course ex­pen­di­ture.

BREED­ING

The con­tri­bu­tion of the breed­ing in­dus­try to the di­rect eco­nomic im­pact of horseracin­g in Wex­ford and Wick­low is be­hind only Tip­per­ary and the Mid­lands in sig­nif­i­cance. To­tal breed­ing rev­enue of €29m con­sti­tutes 71% of di­rect eco­nomic im­pact, with the ma­jor­ity of this rev­enues de­rived from blood­stock sales of €27m.

The Irish Breed­ing In­dus­try is the first step in the pro­duc­tion line of rac­ing and is well rep­re­sented in Wex­ford and Wick­low. Over 750 breed­ers are reg­is­tered in the re­gion, 12% of the to­tal in Ire­land, with the fo­cus on Na­tional Hunt breed­ing.

There are also a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of smaller breed­ing op­er­a­tors, pre­dom­i­nantly lo­cated in Wex­ford, which col­lec­tively form an im­por­tant part of the lo­cal econ­omy,

The reg­is­tered brood­mare pop­u­la­tion of more than 1,450 (11% of the Irish to­tal) gen­er­ates fur­ther ex­pen­di­ture in the re­gion and will in­clude some mares owned not only by in­di­vid­u­als from else­where in Ire­land but also in­ter­na­tion­ally.

The re­gion’s mares pro­duce over 900 foals per an­num, 11% of the Irish crop. Whilst the ma­jor­ity of these will likely be sold as foals or year­lings a pro­por­tion will also re­main in the re­gion as they progress into rac­ing and/or breed­ing ca­reers.

While the vast ma­jor­ity of breed­ing rev­enue in the re­gion is gen­er­ated from blood­stock sales, Wex­ford and Wick­low are also home to 20 stal­lions which col­lec­tively gen­er­ate ap­prox­i­mately hun­dreds of thou­sands of euro each year from nom­i­na­tions.

OWN­ERS AND TRAIN­ERS

Race­horse own­ers rep­re­sent the largest sin­gle con­trib­u­tors to the breed­ing and rac­ing in­dus­try via their pur­chase of blood­stock and sub­se­quent ex­pen­di­ture on keep­ing horses in train­ing,

As well as sup­port­ing train­ers and jock­eys, other in­dus­tries through­out the ru­ral econ­omy such as vets, far­ri­ers and trans­port com­pa­nies also ul­ti­mately rely on the ex­pen­di­ture of own­ers.

In the Wex­ford and Wick­low re­gions this will in­clude trans­port via Ross­lare, lo­cal com­pa­nies such as Keat­ing Horse Trans­port and horse feed com­pa­nies such as GAIN.

Of the ap­prox­i­mately 8,700 horses in train­ing in Ire­land, around 375 are trained in Wex­ford and Wick­low. There are 53 train­ers lo­cated across the two coun­ties, pre­dom­i­nantly jumps fo­cused, with lead­ing han­dlers from the re­gion in­clud­ing Colin Bowe and Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val win­ning trainer Paul Nolan.

The point-to-point in­dus­try is also well repBREEDIN­G

re­sented in the re­gion. For ex­am­ple, Colin Bowe has rapidly be­come one of the coun­try’s lead­ing pro­duc­ers of young horses through point­ing, in­clud­ing re­cent Chel­tenham Fes­ti­val win­ners En­voi Allen, Sam­cro and Arkle win­ner West­ern Warhorse.

There are many more like Colin in Wex­ford pro­duc­ing top young horses in­clud­ing Donnchadh Doyle, Den­nis Mur­phy, Sean Doyle, Liam Kenny and Cor­mac Doyle.

The to­tal own­ers’ ex­pen­di­ture for horses in train­ing in Wex­ford and Wick­low is es­ti­mated as €8m per an­num. Fi­nan­cial re­turn is not the main driver of race­horse own­er­ship, how­ever prize money plays an im­por­tant role in both at­tract­ing new own­ers and keep­ing ex­ist­ing ones by en­sur­ing own­ers feel they are be­ing fairly treated. To­tal prize money earned by horses trained in Wex­ford and Wick­low is es­ti­mated at €1m.

EM­PLOY­MENT

The core in­dus­try is es­ti­mated to em­ploy around 700 peo­ple in Wex­ford and Wick­low, and can be bro­ken down into the fol­low­ing cat­e­gories: breed­ers (445), train­ers and sta­ble staff (190), jock­eys, in­clud­ing agents and valets (10). race­course staff (10), race­course cater­ing (10) and on-course bet­ting (5).

While these roles can be de­scribed as full time equiv­a­lents (FTE), due to the sea­sonal na­ture of the breed­ing in­dus­try and event fo­cused na­ture of rac­ing, these in­clude a con­sid­er­able num­ber of part-time roles.

In ad­di­tion to the core in­dus­try work­force, there are a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of in­di­vid­u­als em­ployed in ac­tiv­i­ties which, whilst be­ing re­liant on the breed­ing and rac­ing in­dus­try, will also serve other eco­nomic sec­tors.

Es­ti­mated at 400 FTE po­si­tions in Wex­ford and Wick­low, these will in­clude roles such as vets and far­ri­ers in ad­di­tion to those work­ing in other sec­tors such as leisure and hos­pi­tal­ity.

Around 250 in­di­vid­u­als are also em­ployed in li­censed bet­ting of­fices (LBOs) in Wex­ford and Wick­low. Whilst the staff in LBOs also take bets on other sports, rac­ing re­mains the pri­mary prod­uct, es­pe­cially in coun­ties such as Wex­ford and Wick­low where the sport is in­grained in the lo­cal com­mu­nity.

CAP­I­TAL EX­PEN­DI­TURE

Ap­prox­i­mately €24m is es­ti­mated to have been in­vested in cap­i­tal projects in Wex­ford and Wick­low in the last 10 years, pre­dom­i­nantly by breed­ers (€22m), with smaller amounts of ex­pen­di­ture from train­ers (€1m) and on race­course im­prove­ments (€1m).

The lat­ter in­cluded two fur­longs be­ing added to the track at Wex­ford and the direc­tion of rac­ing be­ing changed from right to left in early 2015. Sta­bling has also re­cently been im­proved and in­creased, whilst the jock­eys and valets area has been ex­tended and up­graded.

The pre­dom­i­nantly ru­ral lo­ca­tion of breed­ing and rac­ing fa­cil­i­ties within the re­gion also means that cap­i­tal projects pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant op­por­tu­ni­ties and sub­se­quent em­ploy­ment, for lo­cal con­struc­tion and de­vel­op­ment firms.

Com­ment­ing on the re­port, Brian Ka­vanagh, chief ex­ec­u­tive, Horse Rac­ing Ire­land, said: ‘There is a rich his­tory of breed­ing and rac­ing in this area, one that the peo­ple of Wex­ford and Wick­low should feel very proud of, and that tra­di­tion and ex­cel­lence has fu­elled a vital ru­ral in­dus­try.

‘It all makes more rel­e­vant the is­sue of a long-term and sus­tain­able fund­ing struc­ture for the in­dus­try, which can al­low it de­velop to its full po­ten­tial, in­creas­ing both the eco­nomic and so­cial div­i­dend for Wex­ford and Wick­low,’ he said.

Ex­pen­di­ture gen­er­ated in Wex­ford & Wick­low

Lo­cal in­dus­try in num­bers

Cap­i­tal Ex­pen­di­ture

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