Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund Regulations 2016: Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
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This is something that Deputy Carthy raised at the committee last year as well, when he made the same point. Indeed, he has also brought it up in debates in the Dáil. A key driver behind the health and pre-eminence of the sector nationally is that we are able to compete in terms of horse racing. The competitions that take place attract international horses and ensure that right throughout the racing ecosystem there are very strong and attractive races for all types of horses. That is an important driver for the industry and that is the rationale behind providing competitive funding pots for different races. The Government funds a competitive prize money structure and that helps the viability of the various businesses, including the extension of the prize money down to fifth place in races which are supported. It is a key driver of investment in the sector.

According to the HRI fact book, for example, in 2020 there were over 300 fixtures around the country, with 7,500 individual runners and 25% of those horses would have won at least one race over the course of the year. There were 5,000 individual runners which would have won prize money at some stage, equating to around 70% of individual runners. Of the 2,500 individual races, over 2,000 would have had prize money of under €25,000, with over 50 having prize money of greater than €100,000. Obviously, there are also further opportunities for Irish-trained horses to win prize money abroad as part of the equation. A key part of our industry is having strong and attractive races at elite level and at other levels within the industry. That is a key driver in terms of those who become horse owners and put those horses into training. It is also a key driver of the significant employment in training yards across the country. It is very much driven by horses racing and the prize money that comes from those races justifies individual business cases and personal decisions that owners make, either on their own or coming together with friends to get involved in the sport. The prize money is a real driver of that and it permeates down throughout the industry. It very much drives and populates the financial system within the industry.