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