Irish racing will have to wait for increased funding

Legislation to facilitate the taxation of offshore betting will be in place by the end of February but horse racing will not be in a position to fund itself directly as a result.

The aspiration for horse racing chiefs was that the industry could become self-sufficient by funding itself through money earned directly from taxation of bets placed on races.

Speaking at yesterday’s Horse Racing Ireland Awards in Leopardstown, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said the Department of Finance was unlikely to sanction such a scenario.

Mr Coveney did declare that he would be in a better position to ask for increased funding for racing once the revenue streams had increased by virtue of the new legislation.

He did add a proviso though, warning that the industry would have to support the reforms he intends to push through if they wanted him to continue working on its behalf.

“I, like others, have been impatient to see the new legislation from the Finance Department but I am in a position to announce that we will see that in place by the end of February and that will see new revenue streams in place” said Coveney.

“Because there are new revenue streams does not mean that racing will be entitled to that. The Finance Department is slow to ringfence funding for anyone but it will make it easier for me to fight for greater funding.

“In return, I am asking the industry to support changes to the structure of racing. I will be insisting on the reform programme. That’s the deal.”

The minister said he would be looking for racing to be given a multi-annual budget in time, so that the industry could plan further ahead into the future.

He also announced that Joe Keeling would succeed Denis Brosnan as chairman of HRI, while Matt Dempsey would take over from Lady O’Reilly as chairman of the Irish National Stud.

Meanwhile, Brosnan revealed that structures would soon be in place to have the Curragh redevelopment plan back on the agenda by early next year.

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