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