Tracks here hope it's a racing cert they'll cash in on action
IRISH racing bosses hope to cash in on a slice of the Cheltenham action by enticing UK racegoers to cross the Irish Sea for the upcoming racing festivals.
One in five racing fans flocking to the five-day Punchestown festival are from overseas, the Co Kildare track has revealed.
Shona Dreaper, spokeswoman for Punchestown Racecourse, said 18pc of their ticket sales were to UK racing fans, which proved lucrative for the Co Kildare economy during the festival, which runs from Tuesday 23 to Saturday, April 27.
"Up until a couple of years ago, Punchestown would have just had a stand in November," said Ms Dreaper, speaking from the Punchestown Racing stand at Cheltenham.
"We have found the UK guys were booking later and later. This trend has extended well into March and only weeks before booking. It is probably the most important thing we do in terms of attracting overseas visitors," she added.
She revealed there was always a "bounce" in ticket sales after Cheltenham.
"It has a huge impact on the hotels – we always suggest they stay locally to enjoy the festivities and this spills over into Naas, Kilcullen and Newbridge. The boutiques and restaurants all get a boost from it."
In addition to racegoers, the Punchestown festival also works to attract English horses back across the water to contest the races.
"We'd have more English, Scottish and Welsh horses running over the five days than at the rest of the Irish racecourses for the whole year," she said.
Fairyhouse Racecourse is counting down the hours to its Easter Festival. Manager Peter Roe revealed it was trying to entice potential English raiders to sign up for the Grand National.
"We are hoping the new pope will fix Easter – it would make it a lot easier," he quipped, as Fairyhouse follows very close to the action-packed four-days at the UK track.