Prize money for the coming year will be maintained at the current levels, the Curragh redevelopment will return to the agenda and a new programme will be drawn up to attract new owners to Irish racing.
These were some of the main points to be gleaned from yesterday’s Horse Racing Ireland statement on its budget for the next 12 months.
It was also revealed that formal bids for television rights and video streaming are now being invited, with the current deal concluding at the end of next year.
Racing is under pressure from Minister for Agriculture, Simon Coveney, to cut costs and the minister is keen to impose a raft of measures that will streamline the industry’s governance and organisation in this country.
A working group has been established involving representatives of HRI, the Turf Club and the Irish National Hunt Steeplechase committee to work towards this end, with savings of up to €1.5m a year being targeted.
It is the prospect of making these savings that enables HRI to retain the levels of prize money despite seeing its funding cut for the fifth straight year in the budget – this time to tune of €1m.
“Horse Racing Ireland is committed to supporting prize money to encourage people to invest in bloodstock and to keep horses in training in Ireland” said HRI chief executive, Brian Kavanagh. “HRI’s key priority within its 2013 budget is to protect the prize fund so all base values will be retained at their 2012 levels.”
A joint HRI-Turf Club working group will also be established to make proposals in relation to the redevelopment of The Curragh.
It is certain to be on a much smaller scale than the initial €100m-plus proposal, backed by the Aga Khan and including a 72-bedroom hotel, which was given the green light by An Bord Pleanála in 2008.
The project fell foul of the recession however, but there is general recognition that the headquarters of flat racing is in urgent need of a facelift.
Point-to-pointing’s massive contribution to Irish racing and the economy in general is recognised with a slight increase in funding, including a provision for 115 fixtures in 2013. There is also a small increase (2%) in the budget of the integrity services.
Grants have been approved for the Irish Equine Centre (€690,000), RACE/Farrier School (€605,000) and Irish Thoroughbred Marketing (€950,000).
The board has also approved a €450,000 scheme to provide 40% grants towards approved drainage works to be carried out at 12 premier and category 1 courses, following the problems caused by the severe weather this year.
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