MICHAEL FORTUNE: IGB to introduce tiered format for allocation of race grants

THE Irish Greyhound Board yesterday announced a new tiered format for the allocation of race grants which is basically designed to encourage better class racing on all tracks.

The higher the grade, the bigger the prizemoney is the new policy and there is a substantial difference between the money on offer for the top and the bottom grades.

It is an approach that has been advocated by many players in the industry over the years, but particularly since the current downturn in the economy. The new system will be introduced from next Wednesday and, apart from rewarding the better class racing, it will also encourage owners and trainers to achieve higher grading for their trackers — in contrast to the situation which has existed in this country.

The review comes in light of the much reduced Government Funding of the Irish Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund which has seen the funding to the sport reduced by €3.4m in the past two years.

IGB Chief Executive Adrian Neilan said: “The reduction in prize money grants will impact on the middle tier of races most but will be introduced in such a way as to accentuate the rewards to be gained by greyhounds improving and making progress through their careers. Better quality racing attracts better attendance from within the sport and generates a higher yield from betting turnover. These elements feed back into a stronger sport for all and that is our ultimate ambition.”

The new level of grants will see all open races receive funding of €300 (six bend), €290 (standard) and sprint (two bend) €240. The A1 and A2 standard grades will be identical to the open grade. The biggest decrease in grant level has been for A9 performers with the grant being €160 compared to the previous €270.

I have advocated the tiered system for many, many years and the only element that surprises me is the decision to continue rewarding marathon racing more than standard and sprint distance racing. I would have thought that all top flight open races should have been rewarded similarly. Indeed, I feel the Board may have gone a fraction further in introducing two forms of open racing — say A0 and AA0 — which would differentiate between the genuine open racer and the classic contender.

Talking of classic contenders, entries will close tomorrow for the Ladbrokes.com Irish Derby and up to lunchtime yesterday there were just 39 names in the book. However, a flood of entries is anticipated today and Shelbourne assistant manager Justin Kenny was pretty confident that the target figure of 144 would be achieved.

The draw takes place on Tuesday morning at 10 am and the first round will be run over three nights, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Accommodating this switch of dates, Harold’s Cross will race on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday week with next Monday a blank day.

The Sunday meeting (August 8th) is being promoted as a Super Sunday with a 6 pm start and it will bring the Ladbrokes Weekend Festival to a conclusion as the highlight will be the final of the Ladbrokes.com Irish Puppy Oaks.


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