Leopardstown’s Christmas Racing Festival is one of the most popular events of the sporting festive season and this year will be completely sold out by the end of today.

That’s in part because of its enduring appeal and partly down to the restriction on numbers under Covid protocols but at least there will be fans to roar home Rachael Blackmore and the other stars of the show.

Those booking their tickets in recent days may also have seen an invitation on the checkout page to sign up to a new Rewards4Racing loyalty programme.

Cork, Fairyhouse, Galway, Leopardstown, Navan, Punchestown and Tipperary racecourses are part of an initial group to implement the programme here which has been running in Britain for eleven years to very good effect.

The programme there was established in 2011 and has proved to be a significant resource in helping its UK racecourse partners attract new racegoers as well as retaining and rewarding existing fans of the sport. It has 1.2 million members and in 2019, before the pandemic hit, was responsible for 960,000 tickets to the races being bought by its members, making up almost one-fifth of all attendances at English racetracks.

Rewards4Racing Ireland members will be able to join the programme and collect points when they buy general admission tickets or when they engage with the racecourses through their online and on-course promotions.

Several other Irish racecourses will be added in the coming months, with the ultimate ambition of having all Irish racecourses onboard with the programme. Similar to the UK version of the programme, members of Rewards4Racing Ireland will be able to boost their balances by collecting points every time they shop with thousands of different brands.

Members can then spend those points to save money on their next racecourse admission ticket or to win prizes and experiences.

The new programme will also allow greater promotion of Irish racing Festivals to British racegoers who will be able to use their points to go racing in Ireland and attend major festivals such as the Dublin Racing Festival, the BoyleSports Irish Grand National, Cork’s Easter Festival, the Galway Festival, the Punchestown Festival and Longines Irish Champions Weekend.

Writing an opinion piece in the Irish Field two years ago Sport for Business’ founder Rob Hartnett spoke about the value of making people feel that they belonged to something special. Read the full interview here.

“I am delighted to launch this partnership with Rewards4Racing today and we look forward to many other Irish racecourses joining the rewards programme in the coming months,” said Paul Dermody, CEO of Horse racing Ireland’s Racecourse Division.

“Their track record in assisting UK racecourses to drive higher attendances, better engagement and rewarding loyal racegoers is impressive and I am confident we can replicate this formula at Irish racecourses and further enhance the experience of racing in Ireland.”

“Members of the Rewards4Racing programme can generate points with any one of thousands of national and international brand purchases, but the benefit of claiming value for those points stays within their passion and interest for racing. That has to be attractive to our own racegoers in Ireland and indeed the 1.2 million Rewards4Racing members in the UK, many of whom travel regularly to our marquee Irish racing festivals already.”

“Since we launched the Rewards4Racing programme in 2011, our mission has been to reward passionate racegoers by working with, and supporting our racecourse partners, especially when times are tough,” added Rewards4Racing founder Josh Apiafi.

“So, in conjunction with HRI’s racecourse division, we’re thrilled to be launching the programme with a dedicated platform for Irish racing fans on Rewards4Racing.ie.”

“Together with the teams at HRI, Galway and Punchestown, we have worked tirelessly to bring this important partnership to launch. In 2018, HRI announced a growth strategy for Irish racing and one of the elements of this was an industry-leading reward and loyalty programme for Irish racegoers. I’m delighted that we were successful through the tender process to be the programme of choice and we can’t wait to get underway.”

 

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