The value of the racing industry in Roscommon as well as the west and midlands region was highlighted at the Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) Future Focus Racecourse Roadshow held in the Abbey Hotel last night.
The managers of Ballinrobe, Galway, Kilbeggan, Roscommon and Sligo Racecourses spoke to the gathered politicians, trainers, industry representatives and the media about their capital development plans, upcoming meetings and festivals and the significance of the racecourses to their local communities.
Guests included Mayor of Galway, Councillor Frank Fahy; Mayor of Roscommon, Councillor Paddy Kilduff, Frank Feighan TD, Senator Terry Leydon and a number of racehorse trainers including Tom Cleary, Niall Moran and Michael Flannery.
Horse Racing Ireland’s Director of Marketing and Communications, Michael O’Rourke spoke about the value of the Irish racing industry and the important role played by the each of the five racecourses, their strong links in the locality and the economic activity and employment they generate in the region.
Mr O’Rourke described how counties Galway, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo and Westmeath are home to 8% of the country’s breeders, 8% of trainers, 13% of fixtures, 10% of prize-money and 21% of all attendances in Ireland.
“The standout statistic in terms of racing in the west and midlands is that these five racecourses represent one fifth of the country’s attendances. Obviously, the world-famous Galway Festival is a big part of this but all of these racecourses are strongly supported by their local communities. The hard work and dedication of the racecourse managers and their teams plays no small part as they continue to give their local audience the entertainment and value for money that they seek.” he said.
Victor Quinlan, HRI’s Capital Development Manager gave a presentation on HRI’s €100 million capital development fund, which will transform many of the racecourses around Ireland and he explained the ambitious plans already approved for three of the five tracks – Ballinrobe, Roscommon and Sligo.
Master of Ceremonies Denis Kirwan interviewed the Chairmen and racecourse managers about their future plans, their impact on the local economy and strong links to the community. He also spoke to trainer Tom Cleary and Clerk of the Course for nine racecourses, Lorcan Weir.
Speaking at the event Michael Finneran, Manager of Roscommon Racecourse said “Our Racecourse plays an important part in attracting visitors to the county over the summer months with a knock-on effect on our local economy. The county of Roscommon is the lowest populated county in Ireland with a racecourse and therefore we need to attract racegoers from other counties to our meetings. We are constantly striving to make improvements at the racecourse for both the public and those working in the industry. In my time at Roscommon Racecourse, over €3 million has been spent on both the track and facilities. It was great to have the opportunity to talk about our ambitious five year capital development plan at the Future Focus Racecourse Roadshow.”
Athlone based trainer Tom Cleary, spoke of his fondness of n Roscommon Racecourse “Roscommon is my favourite racecourse. I try to have as many runners there as I can and find Michael Finneran extremely helpful. He can always give me a 100% up-to-date report of the ground conditions. The memorial race that Roscommon held for [my son] Sean was such a great tribute to him and we had such a great day with my son Rory winning the memorial race last summer with Greanta. It was super hearing the huge cheer as she passed the line.”