Horse Racing Ireland Growing Engagement With Younger Fans

Scenes from a Student Race Day at Leopardstown |

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) have reported increased attendances at Irish horse racing fixtures in the past year, in part due to growing engagement with younger fans.

According to research conducted by the Red C Horse Racing Ireland Tracker, involving over 1,000 interviews between February 8-14, 45% of people aged 18 to 34 attended a race day in 2023, up from 40% the previous year. Other notable results were as follows:

  • 46% of 18-34s are interested in attending future horse racing fixtures – an increase of 13%
  • 38% of 18-34s plan to attend more horse racing fixtures than last year – an increase of 11%
  • 30% of 18-34s declared an interest in horse racing – an increase of 5%
  • 47% of sports fans are interested in horse racing

As part of their strategy to engage the 18-34 demographic, HRI became the first sporting body in Ireland to launch WhatsApp as a platform for conversational selling in 2023. To date 3,562 people have registered, with an average open rate of 93%.

HRI also activated its first live Tik Tok campaign at this year's Cheltenham festival. This involved a live stream from the gallops each morning hosted by Bernard Jackman and Fran Berry, interviewing jockeys, trainers and stable staff, giving followers a behind the scenes look at the biggest week in the National Hunt calendar. This partnership proved extremely popular, with 1.9 million unique viewers and 3.6 million video views across the week.

Launched in March 2022, HRI'S Tik Tok channel now has over 46,000 followers, over 60% of whom are between 18-34.

Aileen Goatley, HRI's head of marketing, said, “We're thrilled to see the continued growth in positive sentiment towards the sport amongst the 18-34 age group; it tells us that our targeted communications are resonating.

“We have seen the impact across multiple festivals over the past year where this younger audience are attending regularly and enjoying the full race day experience. This is vital for us as ultimately the long-term sustainability of the sport is secured by attracting younger fans and ensuring they have a positive engagement with the sport and the race day experience.

“This is a very engaged audience who want to know more about the sport and the work that goes on behind the scenes to deliver a race day, so it gives us a great opportunity to tell the stories of the people in the industry which supports over 30,000 jobs and is worth over €2.46bn to the Irish economy.”

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