Horse Racing Ireland Partners with Aer Lingus College Football Classic as US investment in Irish Thoroughbreds Nears €19m in 2022

Horse Racing Ireland Partners with Aer Lingus College Football Classic

as US investment in Irish Thoroughbreds Nears €19m in 2022


Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has announced a three-year partnership with the Aer Lingus College Football Classic that will see horse racing become part of the annual celebration of American College Football in Ireland featuring a Stars and Stripes themed race night at Leopardstown Racecourse. This year’s event will take place on Thursday 24th August.


This year’s Classic featuring Notre Dame Vs Navy is estimated to be worth in excess of €147m to the Irish economy, Leopardstown Racecourse’s Stars and Stripes race fixture will be one of c. 50 official events taking place in the week preceding the game and looks forward to welcoming some of the 40,000 International visitors expected to travel to Ireland alongside its domestic audience.


Ireland has a rich racing history and is the training location for many of the world’s leading thoroughbreds. Furthermore, there is a strong relationship between Ireland and the US in the Racing & Breeding Industry. Last year alone, US-based buyers spent €18.8m on Irish thoroughbred horses an increase of €2.1m on the previous year’s sales value. The 2022 sales figures to US buyers represents a 55% increase over the course of the past five years from a figure of €8.5m recorded in 2018.


A total of 142 Irish horses were sold and exported to the US in 2022 for a combined value of €18,888,705. While the North American bloodstock market (Thoroughbred market) is the most valuable in the world with public sales in 2022 of over €1.2bn, Ireland’s public bloodstock sales were worth €538m last year, the second highest in the world. 


Private sales of Irish bloodstock in 2022 were estimated to be worth around €120m, according to the HRI commissioned Deloitte report - Social and Economic Impact of Irish Thoroughbred Breeding & Racing 2023 which was published last month.  This places the total value of Irish bloodstock sales at €658m for last year.  


Over a quarter of all registered owners of Irish racehorses are based overseas and the US is home to approximately 20% (243) of these overseas owners making it the second largest overseas market for Irish racehorse ownership behind the UK.


Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM), a subsidiary of Horse Racing Ireland, is the not-for-profit, semi-state organisation tasked with promoting Ireland as a leading source for the production and sale of quality thoroughbreds. ITM has been focused on developing the US market over the past few years resulting in strong interest from US buyers and growth in annual sales.


HRI will host the Stars and Stripes themed race day at Leopardstown on Thursday 24th August as part of the calendar of activities supporting the sold-out Aer Lingus College Football Classic game between Notre Dame and Navy at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday 26th August.  The American themed race event will feature live music and American Football activations along with a full race card of on course action.


Paul Dermody, CEO of HRI Racecourses and HRI Director of Commercial & Marketing, said, “The US Bloodstock market is the biggest in the world, but the international reputation of Irish horse-breeding is driving significant interest from US buyers and resulting in year-on-year growth in bloodstock sales to US buyers.


The team at Irish Thoroughbred Marketing are doing a fantastic job in attracting US buyers to Ireland and growing that segment of the overseas buyer market in both public and private sales.  


The ties between Irish and US horseracing have never been stronger with a host of Irish-bred Grade 1 winners in the US in 2022 and the likes of Joseph O’Brien being backed by US investors to set up a satellite yard in Saratoga in New York.  HRI’s partnership with the Aer Lingus College Football Classic will allow us to develop new avenues to connect with US buyers and further enhance our offering to US buyers.” 


Tim Husbands, CEO Leopardstown Racecourse, commented, “Leopardstown Racecourse and Aer Lingus College Football Classic have a mutual ambition to develop our respective sports by introducing new audiences.


As the only racecourse in Dublin, we are often the first encounter many tourists have with Irish Racing, so it is important for us to deliver a great experience. The creation of the Stars and Stripes Race Day is to develop a sporting event that celebrates the best Irish music, sport, and dancing with fun of an American tailgate party.


The ALCFC is going to ignite a great atmosphere around Dublin city, will enhance the tourism experience for the many thousands of US visitors, will help create a great economic return to the city, and we are really excited to be a part of it”.



Brendan Meehan, Commercial Director of ALCFC, said “Horseracing in Ireland is very popular and plays an important role in Irish – US relations, so to have the Stars and Stripes race meeting in Leopardstown Racecourse on the Thursday evening before the game provides a wonderful opportunity for US visitors to experience the fun, the ambiance and everything that Leopardstown has to offer. 


“There are natural synergies between those who attend horseracing and those that will come to our game.  They want to experience something different, they want to have fun and witness the intrigue, the razzamatazz and the spectacle.”


About Horse Racing Ireland

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) is the national authority for thoroughbred racing in Ireland with responsibility for the governance, development, and promotion of the industry.   The Irish breeding and racing industry supports in excess of 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in Ireland, and generates €2.46bn in total expenditure, in towns and villages all over Ireland.


The commercial semi-state body is responsible for the annual allocation of approximately 390 race fixtures to the 26 Irish racecourses.


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