Racing officials face nervous wait on Budget announcement for 2023 funding

Colin Keane opts to ride Affogato in Cork’s Listed feature

Connections of a dozen runners are aiming for a good outcome in Cork’s Listed feature although Irish racing as a whole will hope the most positive result of all on Tuesday afternoon comes from the budget.

On a day when the prestigious Goffs Orby Sale also begins in Kill, there is sure to be major focus on what government allocates to the industry under its 2023 budget plans.

Ahead of Tuesday’s announcement, Horse Racing Ireland officials were keeping a low profile and not expanding on expectations.

Last year the allocation to racing under the Horse & Greyhound Fund was cut by over €6 million to €70.4 million. However, the 2021 figure of €76.8 million had been a major jump from 2020′s €67.2 million worth of state funding.


In the context of a grim economic outlook for the winter ahead, there is uncertainty about what government may do this time.

Original HRI plans prior to the Covid-19 pandemic had been for government aid to the sector to rise to €98 million by 2024, an ultra-ambitious target in the current financial climate.

The Navigation Stakes at Cork sees Ger Lyons’ Georgeville top-rated on official figures which makes Colin Keane’s decision to opt for Affogato more significant.

This represents a major drop in class for the diminutive Affogato who wasn’t disgraced when almost 10 lengths behind Pearls Galore in the Matron Stakes over Irish Champions Weekend.

Prior to that she had been unlucky when her saddle slipped at Fairyhouse and her versatility in terms of ground could be a plus given the weather outlook.

Wayne Lordan is on Celtic Crown in the feature but the in-form rider could have better chances earlier on board Charles Bianconi in a two-year-old contest and the top weight Coumshingaun in a sprint handicap.

The latter couldn’t land a blow in the Bold Lad at the Curragh over Champions Weekend but is smart at her best.

In other news, Dermot Weld’s Irish 1,000 Guineas winner Homeless Songs is among 13 entries left in Saturday’s Sun Chariot Stakes at Newmarket. Fourth to Pearls Galore in the Matron on her reappearance, Homeless Songs could clash again with the Leopardstown runner Saffron Beach who landed the Sun Chariot in 2021.

The John Gosden-trained Laurel was supplemented into the race at Monday’s acceptance stage.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column