If there is one country in the world that loves its racing it is Ireland. However the sport received a serious blow when the Irish Government announced a 13% drop in its funding for the horse racing industry. This has resulted in the authority responsible for Irish racing, Horse Race Ireland (HRI) announcing a range of cost cutting measure for 2010.
This is the third reduction in the HRI’s funding in just over a year and it looks as though there will be more job losses at all levels to be added to the 1500 racing associated jobs that have disappeared already.
The authority have put a halt on funding any racecourse capital projects for this year and this will seriously affect the plans to re site the Tranmore Racecourse as well as other planned projects.
There will also be a reduction in prize money which two seasons ago stood at Euro 60 million. Last year in was reduced by Euro 7.3 million and this year a further cut of Euro 5.3 million is planned bringing the total prize money down to Euro 47.7. The major cuts in prize money will come from the top grades of racing, both the Irish Derby and Champion stakes prize money will be reduced by Euro 250k each. However the HRI is maintaining the minimum race value of Euro 7,000. Even point to point faces a reduction of 3% in its prize money.
The HRI staff are facing an average pay cut of 6% this year. This is going to be a tiered reduction with some staff at the lower end having no cuts and those at the top end of the wage scale facing cuts of 12%. The HRI are also aiming to reduce their central administration costs by 19%.
There are real fears that the governments budget cuts and the removal of the stallion tax exemption could have an adverse effect on the Irish racing industry. The HRI Chairman, Denis Brosnan fears that “horses and investment could move to other countries, particularly France”.
Unlike the UK, racing remains well supported by the general public in Ireland and their problems stem mainly from the reduction in the Government subsidy. However on both sides of the water racing is feeling the financial pinch which is why it is so important for the authorities to take decisive action to get the finances of racing on an even keel. It would appear that the HRI have not shirked from doing this.