‘The trickle-down economics of it adds up’ – Ruby Walsh defends racing’s Government funding after criticism

Retired jockey Ruby Walsh© SPORTSFILE

Michael Verney

Ruby Walsh has launched a staunch defence of racing's Government funding in the wake of a recent Independent.ie story on the redistribution of betting tax.

Economic consultants KHSK were recently commissioned by the FAI to analyse the allocation of approximately €1.5billion in public funds to just two sports (horse racing and the greyhound industry) across a 20-year period (2001-2021).

Nearly a third of that figure (€494m) came from general taxation, with the remainder from the betting levy, generated from business on all sports.

Racing prize money, which is propped up by public funds, has come under some scrutiny in recent days as a result, but Walsh is keen to stress that "it's not going into anybody's pocket".

The legendary jockey encourages people need to "do the maths" before making generalisations about the finances of racing and ownership and insists that the "trickle-down economics actually adds up".

"The myth of the prize money and the owners get the prize money in Ireland, do the maths," Walsh told Independent.ie.

"Go down through the leading owners in Irish racing and see how far you have to go to find an owner that has won more prize money than it has cost to keep a horse in training. Not buy his horses, just to keep the horses.

"You’ll be down the list and well out of the top five before you find someone that has won more money than it will cost them. It’s the level of prize money here that partially funds the keep (of horses) and then the trickle-down economics.

"So if you're using your prize money, the owner is using his prize money to pay the training fees. Willie Mullins is paying all of his employees and all of his suppliers, so all that money that's coming out of prize money is going straight down the food chain.

"That's the model, it's not going into anybody's pocket. Willie is earning money, Paul Townend is earning money and so are all of the people that work for him, but they are all paying tax on all of that too.

"It’s not this golden egg that someone is running away with. The trickle-down economics of it actually adds up."