Farm Ireland

Monday 11 December 2017

Thoroughbred sector fully expecting a challenging 2011

The thoroughbred breeding and racing sector is bracing itself for a testing 2011 after the fourth cut in Government funding to the industry in two years.

The thoroughbred foal population has fallen by 40pc in the past two years, while the number of horses in training is down 15pc compared to a year ago.

Weather woes since November have compounded the sector's difficulties as dozens of race days were postponed or abandoned as a result of the big freeze.

Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) recently announced a series of budgetary cuts for 2011 in response to the challenging economic environment. A €1.6m reduction in Government funding was announced in the December budget, and a drop in HRI's total income.

The cost-saving measures include a reduction in prize money and continued restrictions on racecourse capital development projects.

HRI chief executive, Brian Kavanagh, said that while further cutbacks were extremely regrettable, they were unavoidable given that HRI's funding had fallen by €15m, or 25pc since 2008.

He added that a secure, long-term funding structure was central to a return to growth within the industry.

"HRI will continue to work to ensure that all types of off-shore betting, including betting exchanges, are captured within the taxation net on an equitable basis," said Mr Kavanagh.

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"The next step will be to secure an appropriate increase in the taxation rate to ensure that there is no future requirement for any direct exchequer subvention."

"The current rate of betting duty in Ireland is the lowest in the world and a modest increase will safeguard jobs in rural Ireland, ensure continued inward investment from overseas owners and enable the resumption of vital Racecourse Capital Development Programmes as soon as possible, thereby creating significant employment around the country," he maintained.

Caitriona Murphy

Indo Farming