Horseracing fans from Ireland spent €22.3million (stg£19.23 million) at The Cheltenham Festival in 2016 spread across travel, accommodation, tickets and entertainment.

According to an Economic Impact Analysis (EIA) carried out by the University of Gloucestershire on behalf of Cheltenham Racecourse Irish fans bought 57,375 tickets, or the equivalent of 30%of tickets sold at the prestigious annual event.

On average, 14,343 visitors from Ireland attended each day of the four-day Festival. These figures do not include complimentary tickets, hospitality bookings, owners and trainers badges or tickets purchased by further numbers of Irish patrons living in the UK and abroad who also attend The Festival.

2001 – The Festival was cancelled due to foot and mouth.

Ian Renton, Regional Director of the South West region of The Jockey Club,said: “The Festival is one the biggest and most successful sporting occasions of the year involving Britain and Ireland. Over the years, it has become synonymous with Ireland through the participation of its great horses, trainers, jockeys, owners and staff.

“This is the first time we have studied the economic impact of Ireland’s participation and the results demonstrate the very significant ongoing role played by Irish fans to the success of The Festival. Irish fans make up close to one-third of our attendance over the week, helping to create a truly unique atmosphere and experience for all racegoers.

“Our mutual love affair with The Festival, of course, involves so much more than statistics. Our shared love and passion for our sport creates an enduring relationship and long may that continue. We look forward greatly to hosting our Irish racegoers once again in a few weeks’ time for the 2017 renewal.”

The Festival takes place around St Patrick's Day most years

Commenting, Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said: “Ireland has long had a love affair with Cheltenham because they put on a wonderful festival where we see the best National Hunt horses in the world taking each other on.

“The importance of Cheltenham to Ireland goes beyond just the punters and racegoers as winning there is of vital importance to owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys and can be the highlight of a career, or the making of a horse’s pedigree. 

“Cheltenham has often been described as the Olympic Games of Jump racing and we are all counting the days to Tuesday 14th March.”

The highest spend was on entertainment (betting etc) €5.23million, followed by food and drink €4.5million, accommodation €4.1 million and entry fees €2.6 million.

Average spends per attendee included: entertainment €556, tour package €508, accommodation €419 and food and drink €374.

2001 – The Festival was cancelled due to foot and mouth