Horse racing is gearing up for Christmas as most other sports prepare to relax a little and there will be plenty to look forward in the sport in 2019 with details of significant financial uplifts announced on Friday for 2019.
Horse Racing Ireland (HRI)’s budget for 2019 has a number of key elements prioritising 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 crop.
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 being 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.
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.
“While there is much to look forward to for Irish racing in 2019, there are headwinds also, not least with Brexit,” said Horse Racing Ireland CEO Brian Kavanagh announcing the budget priorities.
“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.”
“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.”