Horse Racing Ireland (HRI)’s budget for 2022, which was approved at its Board meeting on Friday December 17, sees a number of restorations to prize money levels; 390 fixtures giving more opportunities to horses at all levels; and an increase in funding for the IRE Incentive Scheme for breeders to meet the challenges posed by both Covid-19 and Brexit. The IRE Incentive Scheme will grow from €1.1m paid out in 2021 in vouchers that can be spent on Irish-bred horses at Irish sales, to €1.3m next year.
HRI has also announced increases to the funding for the Point-to-Point sector in 2022 with the total funding reaching a record €2.5m, with the increased grants per fixture introduced on a temporary basis for 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19 being retained in recognition of the difficulties being experienced by organisers in the area of insurance.
Horses-in-training numbers have remained very strong throughout the pandemic and given the importance of this figure as an indicator of rural employment supported by the industry, extra funding has been assigned for targeted initiatives to increase the number of new owners and to retain existing owners.
Recruitment across all sectors is challenging in the current climate and racing is no different, so the HRI Board also approved increased investment in Industry Education & Training to support all sectors of the industry in achieving sustainable and best practice employment, while also approving a new industry focused €12m Racecourse capital development scheme.
Suzanne Eade, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:
“This is a strong budget which has its focus on restoring prizemoney, supporting growth for those earning their living in racing and breeding, investing in integrity and equine welfare, as well as a racecourse capital programme which is centred on ensuring appropriate industry facilities.
“Framing the budget for the industry for 2022 was not without its challenges, but I’m very happy that we have been able to support the 390 fixtures scheduled for 2022 and with it the opportunities for horses and people at all levels of the industry, while at the same time increasing average prize money and bringing the total on offer to owners back to its second highest level historically.
“We know from our ownership base the importance of prize money in attracting new people into our industry and retaining the owners already there, and in tandem with the prize money restoration, we will be investing in ensuring that owner base stays strong.
“Like most companies, we would have hoped to have been framing the industry budget for 2022 with the Covid-19 pandemic behind us but that sadly isn’t the case.
“The impact of Brexit is far from behind us either in terms of its impact on the racing and breeding sector, so we had little hesitation in retaining the IRE Incentive Scheme for 2022 give the tremendous success it achieved in its first year of operation, with an uplift in the number of vouchers that will be paid out next year.
“After experiencing such huge difficulties in 2020 and early 2021, it was heartening to see the strong sales in the second half of the year, confirming the huge confidence there is in our product.
“There are other challenges too because of Brexit and insurance is one that we, and many other, industries are facing. We have extended our support to Point-to-Points to €2.5m – its highest level ever – recognising that insurance costs are a particular challenge in this sector.
“Integrity and Equine welfare remain of the highest priority for Horse Racing Ireland and we will invest €13.4m in the area in 2022.
“Recruitment and staff retention is an issue for most industries, so we intend to extend out our education and training offering and have backed that up with increased investment for 2022.
“HRI is also conscious of the need to improve standards for all those working in the industry, especially when they go racing. We will therefore be launching a new €12m industry focused Racecourse capital development scheme covering projects to be undertaken in 2022/23 to which HRI will provide €4.8m by means of 40% grant aid. This scheme will target improvements in key industry areas of the racecourse infrastructure such as the weigh room and stable yard, as well as financing work on the racetrack itself including the enhancement of watering systems.”
Subscribe or register today to discover more from DonegalLive.ie
Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.
Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.