The recent spell of Arctic weather has hit Irish horseracing hard with fixture after fixture being called off due to the harsh, snowy conditions.
Costs Stack Up
When races are postponed the whole industry counts the cost, including owners, trainers, jockeys, race courses and bookmakers.
Off-course bookmakers suggest that each Irish race meeting is worth around €1.8 million, so there is real impetus to reschedule each cancelled race and recoup lost income.
Due to declining attendance figures over recent years, particularly for midweek races, the industry has become more reliant on income from TV deals. "If a meeting is rescheduled, it doesn't matter if it is for a month later, or the following day. The media fees are paid and that is a major factor for racecourses," said the Association of Irish Racecourses chief executive, Paddy Walsh.
With individual events earning racecourses TV fees of over €35,000, the cancellation of successive races is a serious knock to the industry.
Attendance figures always rise during the Christmas period and cancellations during this time can cost racecourses dear. Tom Burke, manager of Leopardstown commented in the Irish Times, "There is always a sigh of relief when we get to the fourth day at Christmas. Those four days account for 35% of our annual revenue. There is always a large financial implication when you have to call off a meeting."
This year's seasonal income was adversely affected by fog in more ways than one. The Lexus Chase, in which Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson's horse, 'What A Friend' was due to run, had to be rescheduled. His horse ultimately won the race, which would have created a media buzz, had Alex Ferguson been able to attend the rescheduled race.
As the cold spell continues not only is the industry bracing itself for yet further no-runs but rescheduled races are themselves being delayed. The racing industry is counting the days until the courses can be cleared and the backlog of races can finally take place.