Horse Racing Ireland Announces 2018 Industry Budget

Friday, December 22, 2017

Irish racing’s budget for 2018 was approved at the Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) Board meeting on Monday December 18 and will deliver on commitments previously made, including those in the areas of prizemoney, people training, integrity services and point-to-points.

Prudence in previous years has enabled HRI to build up reserves and those funds will be needed to carry out budgeted programmes in 2018.

Prizemoney next year will rise by €2.2m to a record figure of €63.3m. This is due in part to eight extra fixtures to be staged, enhanced support for the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival in February and the full year effect of programmes introduced in 2017. Prizemoney grants for point-to-points will increase by 23%.

There will be continued capital funding for racecourses to enhance the experience for the general public, those working in the industry, and owners. 

Major capital projects are on-going at the Curragh, Galway, Naas and Punchestown, with many other racecourse improvements underway or due to commence in 2018, supported by grant aid from HRI.

These include the development of a new straight seven furlong track at Cork, an upgrade of the stable yard and stable staff facilities at Tramore, track widening and drainage at Fairyhouse and a new entrance at Ballinrobe.

2018 will also see the commencement of the next phase of the redevelopment of Leopardstown Racecourse comprising a €15m development including new weighroom, saddling boxes, bars, restaurants and public facilities.  Expressions of interest for this project are currently being sought.

There is an increased commitment to integrity services, with an allocation of €9.1m for the year.

There will be further investment in HRI’s ownership department, with an increase in promotional activities in Britain and America, as well as increased investment in marketing and communications.

A structured programme for industry staff training and welfare projects will be implemented in 2018, including the formal launch of the Jockey Pathway programme which has been running successfully as a pilot for a number of months.

HRI Chief Executive, Brian Kavanagh,said: “Despite the static nature of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund in 2018, the Board has opted to invest further in policies which will develop and grow the industry.

“The Deloitte Report which was published in September 2017 clearly established the value of the thoroughbred industry to the economy in Ireland at €1.84 billion per annum, while 2017 saw probably the greatest ever level of success on the track and in the sales ring for Irish trained and Irish bred horses.  These successes are being recognised on a daily basis at this time of the year in the various national sports awards.

“The Budget approved for 2018 by the HRI Board will stimulate future revenue streams for the industry and provide development opportunities for the industry’s most important resource – the people that work in it.

“The priority for 2018 will be to develop sustainable income streams for the industry and to work with Government to put in place a long term permanent funding basis for the sector.  The measures announced today are sustainable in the short-term only as the result of prudence in previous years.  However in the absence of a funding solution, these programmes are not sustainable in the long-term.

“Given the challenges provided by Brexit and the infrastructural issues facing the industry, the need for this solution is greater than ever.

“While prizemoney will be up to a record level of €63.3m, it is worth pointing out that ten years ago, in 2008, the total prize fund in Ireland was €60.4m with 21 fewer fixtures than will be run next year.

“HRI will continue to maintain the minimum prizemoney value at €10,000 for any race in Ireland along with the higher base values which were introduced for point of entry races during 2017. We will also provide additional financial support for initiatives designed to allow smaller owners and trainers to be competitive, such as the 2yo auction race programme and the further development of an equivalent national hunt series. We are supporting the extra fixtures planned for 2018 and investing in the new Dublin Racing Festival in early February and the Longines Irish Champions Weekend in September.

“On the racecourse capital development side, 2018 will be an important year as it will see the final grant allocations from the 2015 to 2019 Capital Grant Programme, the commencement of the next phase of the Leopardstown redevelopment and the completion of major developments at the Curragh, Galway, Naas and Punchestown.  We are also looking forward to the opening of the new straight seven furlong track at Cork.

“Increased investment in staff, training and welfare projects is welcome and together with the funding provided to RACE, comprises an overall investment of €1.4m in industry training and education."

HRI Budget 2018 Features

Prizemoney levels and distribution

Prizemoney will increase by €2.2m in 2018, reaching an all-time high of €63.3m.

This reflects a planned increase of eight fixtures compared to the original 2017 schedule and enhanced prizemoney for the inaugural Dublin Racing Festival in 2018. It also reflects the full year financial impact of the increased values introduced during 2017 to the lower tier point of entry races, including the overall minimum race value of €10,000.

Other initiatives in receipt of continued support in 2018 include the further development of the 2yo auction race series, the auction novice series over hurdles and increased support for flat staying races.

These have been supported by the Irish European Breeders’ Fund and the Irish EBF’s overall sponsorship contribution will to rise by €200,000 to €2.2 million next year.


Driving sustainable ownership is a key issue for the industry and for maintaining and increasing levels of employment. To this end, 2018 will see a continuation of trainer marketing supports.

A number of new ownership promotions, domestic and international, are planned for 2018.

The HRI Ownership Department will continue to work with all stakeholders on improving the ownership experience in Ireland, with particular focus on racecourse facilities and additional benefits attached to racehorse ownership.

In November 2017, the Association of Irish Racecourses announced increased raceday ticketing allocation for racehorse owners in Ireland.

Marketing and Communications

2018 will see a significant investment in marketing and communications, including marketing support for racecourses.

This will see HRI work directly with racecourses to target specific meetings for growth. A number of HRI regional roadshow events are planned for 2018, to engage with the various stakeholders in the industry and explain support services available to those in the industry.


Point-to-point prizemoney will increase by €161,000 in 2018, resulting in increases in prizemoney for all races other than 4yo and 5yo maidens.

The administration grants for point-to-points will be maintained at the increased level of €6,500 per fixture in 2018 (previously €4,500 per fixture).

Integrity Services

An allocation of €9.1m has been approved for integrity services, which includes funding for an injury management database and for CCTV installation at a number of racecourses stable yards.

Industry and Education

2018 will see a focus on embedding career pathways within the industry and providing adequate training and support structures for a broader range of people working in the industry.

The Jockey Pathway programme has been running successfully as a ‘pilot’ programme for a number of months and will be officially launched in early 2018.

Irish Thoroughbred Marketing

With Brexit posing significant challenges for the Irish bloodstock sector, 2018 will see an allocation of €1.095m from HRI and a further €450,000 from the Thoroughbred Foal Levy to Irish Thoroughbred Marketing with the emphasis on protecting the UK market and developing new markets wherever possible. 

Plus 10

Horse Racing Ireland will continue to support the Plus 10 Bonus Scheme in 2018 which will see 100 bonuses of €12,500 distributed amongst qualified winners of Irish flat races.

Irish Equine Centre

Funding for the Irish Equine Centre will increase to €2.22m in 2018.

The Equine Centre carries out a pivotal role in the industry and Horse Racing Ireland is working with the Centre to develop a long term vision for an Irish equine campus which will be a centre of excellence for diagnostics, research and disease surveillance.  This will require capital investment which is the subject of ongoing discussions with the HRI Board.

Capital Projects

The 2018 capital budget provides for the continued development of the Racing Administration System (RAS) which is operated by Horse Racing Ireland, together with provisions for new sets of starting stalls at Killarney and Tipperary.

Despite the static nature of the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund in 2018, the Board has opted to invest further in policies which will develop and grow the industry.