Prize-Money, Integrity, Ownership and Point-to-Points the Focus of HRI’s 2017 Budget


Friday, December 16, 2016
Rainbow Bellewstown

Racing from Bellewstown. Photo: Patrick McCann Racing Post


Horse Racing Ireland (HRI)’s budget for 2017, approved at its Board meeting on Thursday 15th December, prioritises prize-money, integrity, ownership and point-to-points.  

Prize-money will rise by €3.7 million, to a record high of €60.5 million, with the increases focused on lower grade handicaps and point of entry races.  Minimum race values will rise to €10,000, and costs of entry for owners in races worth €20,000 or less will be reduced. 

There will be significant further investment in the ownership function within HRI, with a total budget of €690,000.  The ownership department will aim to increase ownership and support trainers with their own promotional activities.

Point-to-points will see increased grants of €6,500 per meeting, and a 55% overall increase in prize-money. 

On course bookmakers will benefit from a reduced levy of 0.25%, down from 0.5%, and the elimination of the point-to-point levy.  

HRI will continue its capital funding for racecourses, which is designed to enhance the raceday experience for the general public and people working in the industry.  Developments will include a new racetrack improvements scheme, covering areas such as track drainage, watering systems, course realignments and canter downs. 

Prize-money Levels and Distribution                

HRI will increase prize-money by €3.7 million next year from a forecast €56.8 million in 2016 to €60.5 million in 2017, which will be a new annual high for Irish prize-money, exceeding the previous record figure of €60.4 million in 2008. 

The minimum value for any race in Ireland will be raised from €9,000 to €10,000 and the base value increases are targeted at the race types where the largest section of the horse population and the majority of owners compete (i.e. lower grade handicaps and the point of entry races such as flat maidens, bumpers, maiden hurdles and beginners chases). 

In a further measure to reduce the costs for owners, following the 30% overall reduction in administrative charges over the past three years, the cost of running will be reduced for all races worth €20,000 or less from 1% to 0.9%, with the initial entry element being reduced from 0.8% to 0.7% (still 0.2% to declare) – this will reduce the costs for owners by an estimated €600,000 over the year.

Additionally, at least one race worth €15,000 will be programmed on every day, with at least 75% of fixtures having a feature race with a minimum value of €20,000. This initiative will be of particular benefit to the smaller racecourses in helping to promote their race days, as well as seeing values enhanced in races more likely to be won by smaller owners and trainers. 

Commercial sponsorship has risen by €500,000 in 2016 and the HRI Board welcomed the news that the Irish European Breeders Fund’s contribution is forecast to increase by €300,000 to €2 million next year.

Ownership

There will be a significant investment into the new ownership function within HRI, with an expanded team of three including a dedicated owner recruitment position. A trainer marketing support scheme will be available to all fully-licensed trainers for their own promotional activities. The ownership department will also continue to work with all stakeholders on improving the current ownership experience in Ireland, with particular focus on racecourse facilities and the additional benefits attached to racehorse ownership.

The aim is to increase the pool of owners for all levels of the industry, building on the strong growth in new owners in 2016 (up 9.5% year-to-date compared to 2015).

Point-to-Point racing

In conjunction with the INHS Committee, there will be a significant increase in funding for point-to- point racing of €728,000 giving a total allocation of €2.2m including integrity costs of €745,000.  Grants for hunts staging point-to-points will increase by €2,000 to €6,500 per meeting and minimum prize-money for races other than four-year-old and five-year-old maidens will increase from €800 to €1,200 per race.  HRI will meet the cost of providing appropriately qualified medical officers at every point-to-point which was previously borne by the point-to-point organisers.  These doctors will be provided by the Turf Club / INHS Committee. 

Integrity Services

An allocation of €9.6 million has been approved for integrity services, which includes €1.9 million of capital expenditure, including previously announced laboratory equipment for the forensic unit.  This is the highest ever allocation to integrity and the increased allocation will enable the Racing Regulatory Body to focus on its core integrity functions.

Training and Education

An allocation of €745,000 has been approved for industry training and development, principally for RACE.  A further €270,000 has been allocated for specific education and training programmes to be overseen by HRI’s Director of People and Industry Education. The focus will be on career guidance, training and support structures for a broad range of people working in the industry, including stud/stable staff, racecourse managers and staff, and trainers.

Industry Grants

Grants of €1.315 million and €1.095 million respectively were approved for the Irish Equine Centre and Irish Thoroughbred Marketing respectively, both of which also receive funds from the Thoroughbred Foal Levy (€870,000 and €425,000).

On Course Bookmakers

The levy paid by on-course bookmakers will be reduced from 0.5% of turnover to 0.25% of turnover with a view to on-course bookmaker charges being further reduced in future.

Trainers / Jockeys

Deductions of approximately €300,000 from trainers and jockeys prize-money percentages and jockeys riding fees, previously allocated to help fund ambulance services, have been eliminated.  These costs will be jointly borne by Horse Racing Ireland and the racecourses.  Additionally, trainers will no longer be charged an annual fee of €195 for the racing calendar (other than a postal charge for those continuing to receive a hard copy) providing a collective annual saving of approximately €110,000.

Starting Stalls / Photo Finish Capital Investment

An allocation of €595,000 has been allocated for improved photo finish equipment and new starting stalls for Fairyhouse, Limerick and Roscommon.   

Brian Kavanagh, HRI CEO said, “The HRI Board is committed to increasing prize-money, improving integrity services and reducing costs for all participants in the industry, which is reflected in the budget decisions made for 2017.  The prize-money increases will be aimed at the races in which most owners will be competing. We are able to deliver the benefits outlined due to increased commercial revenues and the increased allocation to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund recently confirmed by Minister Creed.  The budget has an emphasis on improving the situation for many participants in the industry who have been struggling in recent years and is designed to deliver a positive impact throughout the country.”

Brian Kavanagh continued, “2016 has seen increases in ownership and horses in training numbers, and the new HRI ownership function will actively promote the recruitment and retention of owners in Ireland.  We have reduced costs for owners, trainers, jockeys and bookmakers, although there is still more to be done.  Recognising the difficulties faced by the handlers and hunt clubs, we have significantly increased our allocation to the point-to-point sector in further support of the grassroots of the industry.”

The HRI Board is committed to increasing prize-money, improving integrity services and reducing costs for all participants in the industry, which is reflected in the budget decisions made for 2017.

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