Minister Simon Coveney confirmed to the Annual Horse Racing Ireland Awards yesterday that the legislation needed to confirm tax of online betting and exchanges would be complete ‘early’ in 2015 and that this was the principal driver of a €14 million jump in government funding for Horse and Greyhound Racing that was announced in October’s budget.
It was a positive day for the sport with tribute paid to rising attendance, the creation of the Irish Champions’ Weekend at Leopardstown and the Curragh and Ireland’s continued dominance of the sport at the highest level in Britain and further afield.
The international success and online betting were interwoven when Sole Power won the Horse of the Year accolade. He will represent Ireland in Hong Kong at the weekend and is owned by David and Barbara Power scions of the family that originally founded Paddy Power.
The Outstanding Contribution award, voted for by the public, went to Tom Hogan, trainer of Gordon Lord Byron. The horse was bought for €1,700 in cash and €300 on a visa card at sales in 2011 and has now amassed career earnings of €1.8 million. It’s the kind of rags to riches story that would tempt a Hollywood film producer and will doubtless be well used by Horse Racing Ireland to promote the dream into reality nature of horse ownership.
Willie Mullins took the National Hunt Award while Sole Power’s trainer Eddie Lynam took the flat equivalent. There was surprisingly no reference to Aidan O’Brien despite his having become the first person in history to train three successive Epsom Derby winners, a feat that will live long in the record books but was overlooked closer to home.
Legendary racing figure Mick O’Toole won the Lifetime Achievement Award to a standing ovation at Leopardstown which itself captured the racecourse of the Year Award before confirming it’s own next phase €14 million capital development programme for the year ahead.
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