Horse Racing Ireland (HRI)'s budget for 2016 continues the commitment in previous budgets to provide increased prize-money and to reduce administrative costs for owners and trainers. It also creates a fund to support education and training across the thoroughbred industry. The budget was approved at a meeting of the Board of HRI on Friday December 18th.
Prize-money will increase to €56.7 million, up by over €3 million. Minimum race values will increase from €8,000 to €9,000. There will also be increased percentages of prize-money for placed horses and payments out to six places in races worth €40,000 or more and to five places in all other races.
Funding for the Irish Equine Centre has been increased by €355,000 to just under €2m and over €1 million has been allocated for industry development, education and training.
Administrative charges will fall by circa €250,000 equating to 8% overall, the third consecutive annual reduction in costs for owners and trainers following previous annual cuts of 10% and 17.5%.
1. Prize-money Levels and Distribution
HRI will increase prize-money by €3.1 million (or 5.8%) next year, from a projected €53.6 million this year to €56.7 million in 2016. This follows a €5 million (10%) increase in prize-money in 2015. The absolute minimum race value in Ireland will be increased from €8,000 to €9,000, with significant increases to other base values as set out in Table A below. The key priority has been to increase the values of the lower grade handicaps under both codes so as to target the largest section of the horse population. Some black-type categories have been raised in National Hunt racing to ensure that Ireland's premium races remain competitive internationally in prize-money terms.
An additional €750,000 will be added to the Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby weekend and Longines Irish Champions Weekend prize funds to ensure the best possible international participation, while a special development fund has been allocated to develop international entries in Champions Weekend and Classic races.
HRI will change the distribution of prize-money next year so that placed horses will receive a greater percentage of prize-money (2
placed horses 20%, 3
placed horses 10% and 4
placed horses 5% - compared to 17%, 8% & 5% at present). Prize-money will also be extended to five places in all races and to six places in all races with a value of €40,000 or more. This is designed to attract more runners in races which might have historically struggled with small fields and to increase the percentage of horses which win prize-money: so far in 2015, 58.6% of individual runners have won prize-money and the aim is to increase this figure above 60%.
Table A :
|Key Prize-money Increases|
|Minimum race value going up from (€8,000 to €9,000)|
|Lower grade Handicaps (3 bottom tiers) going up by €1,000 under all codes|
|Grade 2, 3 & Listed National Hunt races going up by €2,500|
Click here for link to 2016 base values
2. National Hunt Fillies Bonus Scheme and Plus Ten
HRI will provide €100,000 to support the ITBA National Hunt Fillies Bonus Scheme, which has the objective of encouraging the sales of NH fillies and also their being put into training in Ireland. It provides payments to the winning owner of qualified fillies/mares of €5,000 if winning a mares-only maiden bumper, maiden hurdle or beginners chase, giving each owner the potential to win €15,000.
HRI will also continue to contribute Stg£250,000 towards the joint Anglo-Irish 'Plus Ten Scheme' which will see up to 100 bonuses of £10,000 stg paid out to the qualifying winners of all 2-year-old races (bar Black-Type races) run in Ireland in 2016. There will also be 25 payments available to the first 25 qualified 3-year-olds who win maidens this year.
3. Reduction in Registration Charges
Reductions in administrative charges for racehorse owners and trainers will amount to 8%, representing savings of almost €250,000. This follows the 2015 reductions which represented savings of over €500,000. The principal areas of reduction will be in naming charges, racing calendar costs and the elimination of horses in training levies.
4. Industry Grants
Grants of €1,115,000 and €1,275,000 were approved for the Irish Equine Centre and Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (ITM) respectively, both of which also receive funds from the Thoroughbred Foal Levy (€850,000 and €415,000 respectively). ITM will continue to develop international markets for horse exports and inwards investment, as well as increased focus on the recruitment and retention of racehorse owners.
5. Education and Training
An allocation of €742,000 has been approved for industry training and development, principally for RACE. In addition, HRI has committed to an industry education and training programme of €300,000 which will be implemented throughout the year.
Funding of €1.6m will be allocated to point-to-point racing in 2016, an increase of 10%.
7. New Racing System
The first phase of the rollout of a new racing administration IT system which is being developed in-house to replace the current legacy system will take place in Quarter 1 2016.
8. Starting Stalls
An investment of €450,000 will be made in new starting stalls for Navan, Galway and Gowran Park.
9. Economic Study
HRI will commission a comprehensive independent evaluation of the economic value of the racing and breeding industries to the country.
Provision has been made in the budget for once off restructuring costs arising from the enactment of the Horse Racing Ireland Amendment Bill.
Brian Kavanagh, Chief Executive of HRI said : "2015 brought in many significant changes including the implementation of our new racecourse capital development programme, the introduction of online betting tax and the announcement of increased Government Funding. In this budget we have continued our commitment to increase prize-money and to reduce costs for owners and trainers. Racegoers and industry professionals will see a significant uplift in the quality of our facilities at tracks through the continuing roll-out of our Racecourse Capital Development Plan in the years ahead, including flagship projects at Leopardstown, Punchestown and the Curragh."
Brian Kavanagh continued : "HRI is committed to improving prize-money to remain competitive internationally and to attract and retain owners. We are able to deliver the benefits outlined in the budget because of an increased allocation through the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund, which Minister Simon Coveney has championed, along with his commitment to structural change in the industry. I am particularly pleased to confirm our additional commitment to education and training which will be central to the development of the industry in the years ahead. Increased funding for the Irish Equine Centre will also help to ensure that it can continue its valued work on behalf of the industry."
The integrity budget and report of the Anti-Doping Task Force Report will be issued together early in Quarter 1 of 2016.