Point-to-Point committees are to benefit from the largest investment by Horse Racing Ireland in the sport, following the announcement of the HRI budget for 2022.
A record €2.5million in funding has been allocated to the sector for 2022, with the increased grant per fixture which was introduced on a temporary basis for 2021 due to the impact of Covid-19 being retained in recognition of the difficulties being experienced by organisers in the area of insurance.
Last year’s 2021 budget saw the per fixture grant to organising committees being boosted by €1,000, and committees will continue to receive an overall administration grant of €7,500 per fixture in 2022, separate to the prize money contribution.
Suzanne Eade, Chief Executive of Horse Racing Ireland, said:
“This is a strong budget which has its focus on restoring prizemoney, supporting growth for those earning their living in racing and breeding, investing in integrity and equine welfare, as well as a racecourse capital programme which is centred on ensuring appropriate industry facilities.
“Framing the budget for the industry for 2022 was not without its challenges, but I’m very happy that we have been able to support the 390 fixtures scheduled for 2022 and with it the opportunities for horses and people at all levels of the industry, while at the same time increasing average prize money and bringing the total on offer to owners back to its second highest level historically.
“We know from our ownership base the importance of prize money in attracting new people into our industry and retaining the owners already there, and in tandem with the prize money restoration, we will be investing in ensuring that owner base stays strong.
“Like most companies, we would have hoped to have been framing the industry budget for 2022 with the Covid-19 pandemic behind us but that sadly isn’t the case.
“The impact of Brexit is far from behind us either in terms of its impact on the racing and breeding sector, so we had little hesitation in retaining the IRE Incentive Scheme for 2022 give the tremendous success it achieved in its first year of operation, with an uplift in the number of vouchers that will be paid out next year.
“After experiencing such huge difficulties in 2020 and early 2021, it was heartening to see the strong sales in the second half of the year, confirming the huge confidence there is in our product.
“There are other challenges too because of Brexit and insurance is one that we, and many other, industries are facing. We have extended our support to Point-to-Points to €2.5m – its highest level ever – recognising that insurance costs are a particular challenge in this sector.
“Integrity and Equine welfare remain of the highest priority for Horse Racing Ireland and we will invest €13.4m in the area in 2022.
“Recruitment and staff retention is an issue for most industries, so we intend to extend out our education and training offering and have backed that up with increased investment for 2022.
“HRI is also conscious of the need to improve standards for all those working in the industry, especially when they go racing. We will therefore be launching a new €12m industry focused Racecourse capital development scheme covering projects to be undertaken in 2022/23 to which HRI will provide €4.8m by means of 40% grant aid. This scheme will target improvements in key industry areas of the racecourse infrastructure such as the weigh room and stable yard, as well as financing work on the racetrack itself including the enhancement of watering systems.”