The recommendations of the Indecon Report surrounding the governance and fundraising of horse racing in Ireland will be acted on before the end of the year, according to the Minister for Agriculture, Food & the Marine, Simon Coveney.
The report was published in July 2012 but its implementation has been delayed by difficulties in establishing legislation. As well as making recommendations surrounding the funding of Irish racing, the report also contains proposals regarding the structuring of Irish racing’s governance, the streamlining of regulatory authorities and the establishment of strategies to optimise the marketing and competitiveness of the industry.
The minister told an expectant attendance at Leopardstown racecourse yesterday that movement could be expected shortly.
“Before the end of the year, we will have finalised the process of finding a way to implement the Indecon Report, or as close as possible” said Coveney at the 11th Horse Racing Ireland Horse Racing awards.
He revealed that he would be meeting with officials from HRI and the Turf Club this week to move proceedings forward, and emphasised the need for efficiency and transparency within the industry’s governing bodies if current funding was to be maintained and increased.
He hailed Irish racing’s ability to retain its position as a world leader despite acknowledging that government investment is significantly lower than that experienced by its competitors, but promised that an increase to the Greyhound and Horse Racing Fund would be forthcoming when the economy allowed.
Minister Coveney pointed to new opportunities for the industry in the Gulf States (Qatar, UAE and Saudi Arabia), China and Japan. He also highlighted the “dramatic increase” in activity at Irish sales this year but expressed a hope that “as we see the value of the product increase, I would like to see an increase to the amount of Irish bloodstock being sold in Ireland as opposed to elsewhere. We need to bring more people here and create an industry around the sale of horses.”
HRI chairman, Joe Keeling announced his intent to bring about an increase in prize money at race meetings in Ireland, while also reducing costs to the sport’s chief participants – owners, trainers and jockeys. He also wants to advance developments at the country’s racecourses, particularly flat racing’s headquarters at the Curragh.
“Prize money is 24% lower than it was in 2008 and prize money is higher in France and England. We will ask the board to increase prize money at our meeting on Friday because if we don’t, we’re in danger of losing competitiveness.”
Hurricane Fly became the first two-time winner of the Horse of the Year award, thanks to becoming the first horse since Comedy of Errors in 1975 to regain his crown as champion hurdler in Cheltenham, and going on to set a world record of 17 Grade 1 successes.
His trainer, Willie Mullins won the National Hunt award as he broke a host of records over the course of the season, while Johnny Murtagh’s achievements as both a trainer and jockey earned him the Flat award.
Jamie Codd got the nod in the Point-To-Point category, while Dundalk won the gong as Racecourse of the Year and Barry Cash was a popular winner of the Outstanding Achievement award as a result of his dieting to ride Big Shu to a long-cherished Cheltenham victory.
Jim Bolger’s record as a trainer, breeder and producer of future jockeys and trainers was marked with his Contribution to the Industry award.
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