HRI welcome reforms, will consult with industry throughout August

horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has welcomed the findings of the recent Indecon report which will now undergo a period of consultation by the racing industry throughout the month of August.

horse Racing Ireland (HRI) has welcomed the findings of the recent Indecon report which will now undergo a period of consultation by the racing industry throughout the month of August.

The report, an independent review into the way Irish racing is run, recommended a number of industry reforms including a review of the €29 million annual allocation from the taxpayer, the integration of the offices of the Newbridge based HRI and Curragh based Turf Club and a reduction in the size of the Board. Chief Executive Brian Kavanagh was unavailable for comment however in a media statement HRI said the reforms recommended in the report would help to secure certainity of funding for the sport.

The Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, who commissioned the report, wants responses to the report over the next 30 days and signalled that he will begin implementing its recommendations in September.

The changes in the recently published Betting (Amendment) Bill were recommended by the Indecon Report as being the main priority for future funding of the industry.

“The dependence on very scarce Exchequer resources, to the extent which currently exists, represents a major strategic vulnerability for the sector given the current state of the public finances,” the report says. “Indecon therefore believes new sources of funding are urgently required to support the industry and to wean the industry off its dependence on exchequer funding.”

The report recomends that measures should be introduced to secure a significant increase in taxation from the betting sector.

It recommends that licence fees for all offshore and other bookmakers should be increased. It also recommends that the merits of replacing the Horse and Greyhound Fund should be considered.

The report acknowlegdes that there should be enough funding to ensure resonable prize money which has fallen by €16 million to €44.4 million since 2007.

Funds should also be available to attract new customers as numbers are down since 2007 while betting turnover has fallen by 46 per cent.

Racehorse owners numbers are also falling. The number of horses in training is down 26 per cent since 2007.

The report found that necesssary funds are also required to support integrity services, which is key to racing’s credibility as a betting medium and to maintain the disease-free status of Irish bloodstock.

Meanwhile the end of the tax break given on stallion fees in the Republic, which underpinned a hugely successful breeding industry has had an impact on the the number of stallions, mares and foals in Ireland which is down by one third.

- Paula Campbell