Irish racing is set for a shake-up after a report published yesterday made a number of recommendations. Horse Racing Ireland’s (HRI) Strategic Marketing Group undertook the research in order to try and increase the attendance levels at Irish courses after a significant drop from four years ago (2006: 1.46m attended. 2010: 1.2m). The group’s main recommendations were to introduce a two-tier fixture list, 25 minute intervals between races and remove the restrictions on betting at race courses.
Core of these was the first point that would see race days divided into “premier” and “standard” categories. It will help to differentiate between days with popular appeal and those best suited to “low cost midweek racing.”
Horse Racing Ireland chief executive Brian Kavanagh commented, “I welcome the report but want to emphasise that it is up to HRI to balance the needs of all parties and that this is strictly a report written from the racegoer customer perspective.
“Clearly there is an issue for racecourses and ourselves in retaining and growing the audience and this report has been discussed in detail at the last two board meetings, so it will filter into our strategic plan.”
The man who chaired the Strategic Marketing Group, Jim Nicholson, added, “Many viewpoints have been heard and the report now sets out clearly what is needed from the customer’s standpoint. We have an opportunity to put in place new practices and ways of thinking which will ensure that racing grows in popularity and will be in a position to maximise the benefits when the economy recovers”.
The findings will inform the HRI’s proposals that are going before the country’s government later this summer.