February date for new offshore tax legislation


Government plans for legislation to enable the collection of offshore betting tax are expected to be in place by the end of February although any idea of “ring-fencing” for racing the estimated €15 million per year revenue anticipated to be generated by the move has been ruled out.

The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, Simon Coveney insisted yesterday his long-term plans for the industry include a link between betting tax revenue and funding for racing which will allow long term “multi-annual” planning for the industry.

However, he also stressed that reform of racing’s infrastructure, along the lines of the Indecon report published last summer, will have to be followed through in order for him to continue arguing racing’s case at the Cabinet table.

Last week’s budget saw a €1 million cut to Horse Racing Ireland’s funding, a move Coveney said was comparatively low in comparison to other areas of his department which saw €90 million worth of cuts in total.

The Minister was speaking at yesterday’s HRI Awards for 2012 where Aidan O’Brien’s triple-classic winner Camelot was voted Ireland’s Horse of the Year.

After indicating he hopes the proposed new betting legislation will be completed before the Finance Bill is published, the Minister added: “I think it is important to say that just because there will be a new revenue stream, racing isn’t automatically entitled to that. The Department of Finance is reluctant to ring-fence any such funding.”

HRI officials currently estimate up to €15 million could be generated on taxing off-shore betting avenues in a full year at a one per cent levy and pointed to Minister Coveney’s belief that a more solid funding structure – one that rules waiting year on year for exact finance figures – is the way to go for racing.

“If I’m going to fight for racing, then I expect the industry to respond too with a programme of change,” Coveney said. “I am insisting on a reform programme. That is the deal, and I believe that is what is happening.”

The Minister confirmed Dublin businessman Joe Keeling will succeed Denis Brosnan as HRI’s chairman in the early months of next year and added that Matt Dempsey will be the new chairman of the Irish National Stud.

Thanking Brosnan for 21 years at the helm of racing in Ireland, Coveney described Keeling as a “sure-handed choice” for the role of HRI chairman. He also pointed to another successful year for Irish racing internationally in 2012 and said: “Racing is probably the only sport where Ireland is consistently the best in the world. Year after year it produces winners.”

Camelot, winner of the English 2,000 Guineas and the English and Irish Derbies, beat off the challenges of five other horses, including Hurricane Fly and Dawn Approach, to be crowned HRI’s 10th Horse-Of-The-Year.

Aidan O’Brien’s star remains in training next year and the 17 times champion trainer said the son of Montjeu is likely to be focused on a mile and a quarter campaign in 2013.

“He’s in great shape again after his colic. He has done great physically,” he said. “Hopefully we will start him off in something like the Mooresbridge, then maybe the Tattersalls and then Royal Ascot. We’ve always felt his best trip from a mile to a mile and a quarter.”

O’Brien’s son 19-year-old son Joseph received the Flat Award for a campaign that saw him become champion jockey for the first time.

The first-time champion jumps rider Davy Russell got the National Hunt award while Colman Sweeney, winner of the Foxhunters at Cheltenham on Salsify in March, received the Point-to-Point prize while Flemenstar’s trainer Peter Casey received the Outstanding Achievement award.

HRI Awards 2012

Horse of the Year:Camelot – Winner of the English 2,000 Guineas and Epsom Derby. The Aidan O’Brien trained colt also won the Irish Derby at the Curragh.

National Hunt Award: Davy Russell – Champion jockey for the first time, the Co Cork-born pilot is number one for Michael O’Leary’s powerful Gigginstown Stud team.

Flat Award:Joseph O’Brien

The first jockey in over 60 years to become champion rider the season after being crowned top apprentice. Rode Camelot to three Classic wins.

Outstanding Achievement:Peter Casey

The colourful 77- year-old Co Dublin trainer has a prime Cheltenham Gold Cup candidate in Flemenstar and achieved national prominence with a famous RTÉ interview last January.

Contribution to the Industry:Moyglare Stud

Legendary Maynooth stud founded by the late Swiss businessman Walter Haefner which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year. Home of champions such as Assert and Go And Go.

Point to Point:Colman Sweeney

Co Cork-based amateur jockey who landed the Cheltenham Foxhunters in March on Salsify.

Racecourse of Year:Ballinrobe

Progressive Co Mayo track that has carried out extensive work on its facilities in the last decade.

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