AT THIS moment in time, Irish racecourses are finding it difficult to survive. Due to the current economic climate, attendances are down, money being bet on the Tote is down and, most crucially, young Irish people are not walking through the gates in the same numbers as they once were.
There are many things putting young people off going racing, and there are many things that are attracting young people to go racing. Here I look at the positives and negatives of horse racing, and its appeal to young people.
There are many things that would attract young people to go racing in Ireland, none more so than the quality of racing that is on show on the day when good horses are running. Then, inevitably, the top trainers and jockeys are going to be there. When horses such as Hurricane Fly and Sizing Europe are on show, they are bound to attract a huge crowd to that very race meeting. When the quality on show is at the highest standard, the young racegoers are going to come out in their hundreds.
No matter what, when us young people see the top stars of the game in action, we appreciate what we are seeing. If the quality of racing is at the highest standards each weekend, the young people of Ireland are going to be more and more interested in the sport – that means that they might attend the races more frequently.
Another way horse racing would appeal to young racegoers would be through added incentives. These could include a concert after racing, or a match on the big screen.
When these added incentives are being brought into action, the young people are sure to come out in full force. Not only do they get to see superb racing but they also get to have a great time after racing. If Irish racecourses introduce this, then they will attract many young people to the races.
Sometimes the negatives overshadow the positives, and unfortunately there are a few in racing. The most negative thing towards young people is the entrance fee. The fee to get into most racecourses is between €8 and €12. On top of the entrance fee is the need to purchase a €3 race card. Before you even see a horse run, that is an outlay of €11 to €15, depending on the fees. The price is a major negative and very off-putting to us young people. If they lower the price for us students, they will attract a bigger crowd.