Racing Ireland (HRI)’s budget for 2019, approved at its Board meeting on Monday
December 10, prioritises racecourse capital development, prizemoney, integrity
and equine welfare, industry training and education, broadening the interest of
the sport, and point-to-points.
Prizemoney will rise by €2.9 million, to a figure of €66.1 million, with the
additional commitment spread across some of Ireland’s big racing festivals as
well as increases to feature races at 20 of Ireland’s Grade 2 and Grade 3 racetracks.
The opening of the redeveloped Curragh Racecourse will see prizemoney increases
for some of its feature races in 2019.
Equine welfare and employee development are two priorities in the budget, with
new lifetime traceability for thoroughbreds to be introduced for the 2019 foal
Next year, HRI will be working closely with Government and with industry
stakeholders to advance the development of a state-of-the-art Irish Equine
Centre in Johnstown, County Kildare. An industry-wide graduate programme is
among the measures funded to assist those seeking to work in the industry and
those seeking employees.
2019 will also see Irish racing embark on a television advertising campaign for
the first time in over a decade.
Point-to-points will see increased prizemoney in races for older horse
- Prizemoney Levels and
increase prizemoney by €2.9 million next year from a forecast €63.2 million in
2018 to €66.1 million in 2019. In a competitive international environment, this
is important for Ireland to continue to attract owners with horses in training
The reopening of the redeveloped Curragh will be marked by a prizemoney uplift
for some of its feature races, as will Leopardstown's Dublin Racing Festival,
the Punchestown and Galway Festivals. The racecourses will contribute to these
increases through higher levels of sponsorship.
A further €500,000 will be distributed among 20 Grade 2 and Grade 3 racecourses
to be used to further enhance the prizemoney around their feature races. This
initiative will be of particular benefit to the smaller racecourses in helping
to promote their race days and will enhance values in races which are
accessible to the majority of the horse population.
- Integrity Services and Equine
allocation of €9.5 million has been approved for integrity services to be
provided by the IHRB in 2019. This will feature increased levels of
out-of-competition testing, enhancements to the IHRB security function and
investment in upgraded I.T. systems. Increased funding has been allocated to
equine welfare, including a new foal traceability system.
- Broadening interest and appeal
with racecourses, HRI will conduct a comprehensive advertising and marketing
campaign in 2019, including a return to TV advertising for the first time in
over 10 years. The roll-out of free WiFi, which commenced in 2018 at
Leopardstown, Naas, Fairyhouse, Ballinrobe, Navan and Cork, will continue in
2019 when 16 further racetracks will complete their WiFi implementation,
bringing with it improvements to racegoer experience.
- Industry Training and Education
allocation of €1.6 million has been approved for industry training and
development, with the focus on core skills within the RACE training centre as
well as industry employment support programmes. The allocation includes funds
for specific education and training initiatives, including the development of
an industry-wide graduate programme and more tailored programmes to support
attracting people into employment in the industry. There is also funding
committed to a series of regional events hosted with second-level education
guidance counsellors, and a further expansion of the equine industry
has once again been committed to the recruitment and retention of owners in
Ireland, with further funding in 2019 for the trainer marketing support scheme
and a new loyalty scheme. The HRI Ownership Department will continue to work
with all stakeholders on improving the experience for owners 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 to date in
- Point-to-Point racing
role the point-to-point sector plays is acknowledged with a further increase in
prizemoney for 2019. Prizemoney for point-to-points will increase by 13% in
2019, driven by enhanced prizemoney for races for older horses, with a further
6% prizemoney increase due to an additional nine fixtures scheduled for next
year. The total budget funding for point-to-points, including integrity
services provided by the IHRB, will come to €2.4 million in 2019.
- Industry Grants
€1.32 million and €1.095 million were approved for the Irish Equine Centre and
Irish Thoroughbred Marketing respectively, both of which also receive funds
from the Thoroughbred Foal Levy (€900,000 and €450,000). A further €100,000 of
funding from the Foal Levy was to support the funding of a Mass Spectrometer,
which will improve the forensic examination of samples at the Irish Equine
Centre. The funding for Irish Thoroughbred Marketing is particularly important
as 2019 will see the United Kingdom exit from the EU.
- Racecourse Redevelopment
the completion of a number of capital projects across Irish racecourses and
2019 will see further activity in this area.
April will see the opening of the redeveloped Curragh Racecourse which will
ensure that customer facilities at the headquarters of flat racing in Ireland
will match the quality of the racetrack and the race programme there.
As Dublin’s only racecourse, Leopardstown plays a vital role in the Irish
racing programme staging Grade 1 action on both the flat and national
hunt. Ground was broken on the latest phase of Leopardstown’s
redevelopment programme in 2018 and next year will see this €18 million project
advance towards completion.
Capital projects at Bellewstown, Clonmel, Dundalk, Killarney, Listowel,
Roscommon, Sligo, Tipperary, Tramore and Wexford Racecourses are also due to be
completed next year.
Discussions on further exciting developments are ongoing with a number of
racecourses, while 2019 will see the conclusion of the grant scheme for
drainage, irrigation and other track development works which will provide
funding of €2.3m of works circa €6.8m. These works, the majority of which
are funded by the racecourses, are vital for the continuation of racing and the
improvement of the quality of racing surfaces around the country.
- Starting Stalls/further capital
An allocation has been made for the purchase of
new starting stalls for Cork Racecourse, which will complete the replacement of
the starting stalls at all racecourses in Ireland which host Flat meetings.
Cork will also see the opening of its new seven-furlong straight track next
summer, while 2019 will also see the continued development of HRI’s in-house
on-line racing administration system (RAS) including new phases around
digitised race planning and handicapping.
Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:
“While there is much to look forward to for Irish racing in 2019, there are
headwinds also, not least with Brexit. In 2019 HRI will therefore invest in
areas which will deliver sustainable growth for the industry.
“The completion of the Curragh redevelopment will give Irish flat racing the
flagship it deserves and the new facilities will bear favourable comparison
with other international racecourses.
“The challenge of Brexit is substantial and the United Kingdom’s departure from
the European Union in March will leave Ireland more isolated. It is
important therefore to ensure that Irish prizemoney is competitive
internationally and increases have been spread throughout the country.
“The increased allocation to integrity services is welcome and will focus on
critical areas such as drug testing, security and IT systems. HRI is
working closely with the IHRB to deliver efficient administration and
regulation to the industry.
“Staff and equine welfare will also be high priorities and 2019 sees an
increased financial allocation to these areas. There are also increases in
funding for point to point racing, ownership and the Irish Equine Centre.”
Brian Kavanagh concluded: “We are grateful to Minister Creed and his team in the Department of
Agriculture, Food and the Marine for the support which they have shown to our
industry, which the Deloitte Report showed was worth €1.8bn per annum to the
economy. 2019 will see the launch of the next Strategic Plan for the
industry and HRI looks forward to working with industry stakeholders, as well
as Minister Creed and his team, to deliver the plan and increase the yield
which our sector provides.”