2015 was a strong year for horse racing in Ireland...
The value of Irish bloodstock sales to overseas buyers jumped by close to 17% to €268m during 2015, according to the Horse Racing Ireland’s (HRI) latest annual report. Irish horses were exported to 33 different countries.
Sales of horses to local buyers rose by a more modest 3.5% to €152m.
The report reveals that the value of betting on the Tote was up by nearly 30% to €79m, that's its fifth consecutive year of growth but on course betting with bookmakers fell slightly to just below €70m.
Tote demand "was driven by international markets where demand for pool betting on Irish racing continues to be strong and this is expected to continue in 2016."
In 2016, HRI planned to increase prize-money by €3.1m or 5.8% - from €53.4m to €56.7m.
This follows a €5m (10%) increase in prize-money in 2015. The absolute minimum race value in Ireland was increased from €8,000 to €9,000.
Racecourse attendances were almost at the same level as 2014, having lost gains made in the first half of the year to extreme weather conditions in the autumn and winter. HRI notes that poor weather disrupted a number of key festivals.
Chief executive Brian Kavanagh commented: "In 2015 we saw a return to growth in the number of Flat entries which is encouraging, but National Hunt entries need stimulation," €100,000 was put into a bonus scheme with, "the objective of encouraging the sales of National Hunt fillies and also their being put into training in Ireland."
"Irish owners, trainers, jockeys and horses give us a lot to be proud of and enhance our reputation worldwide. I wish all of those listed in this publication and all others involved in this important national industry a very successful 2016," he added.