Amateur horse racing may halt as organisers fail to secure insurance cover

Without it point-to-point race meetings simply cannot proceed, says Derek O’Connor

Amateur horse racing may grind to a halt this week as organisers are running out of time to secure insurance cover due to a UK underwriter failing to renew policies.

Insurance cover for point-to-point race meetings is being pulled from many of the organised events on Wednesday as the primary insurer – a UK-based subsidiary of US parent company Liberty Mutual – is not renewing policies.

The failure to secure adequate insurance cover has already forced several race meetings to be cancelled with dozens of next year’s meetings in serious doubt.

Liberty Insurance Ireland left the commercial market here two years ago leaving no Irish-based insurance underwriter.


There are more than 100 of such fixtures held per season organised by local hunt club committees with the Irish Horse Racing Board acting as the administrator.

The majority of the hunt clubs in Ireland are involved in running amateur or point-to-point racing across the country. A point-to-point is a form of horse racing over fences for hunting horses and amateur riders.

The overseas insurer has not been renewing cover for hunt clubs, which run the majority of the amateur meetings known as point-to-points.

Insurance costs over the past year for the race meetings has doubled and tripled in price from €12,000 upwards.

The underwriter is not upholding renewals as UK-based insurance underwriters can no longer provide policies as they are no longer part of the EU.

The only race meetings which have managed to secure insurance are the Cork and Waterford association. Racing fixtures in Northern Ireland are not affected.

Galway man Derek O’Connor, who is the country’s top amateur point-to-point rider, holding nine titles and with more than 1,200 winners, said the livelihoods of hundreds of people were on the line due to the insurance cover crisis.

Mr O’Connor said: “But it’s not just about jobs. It’s about the rural way of life and all that is associated with this. The racing industry is just one of several sectors drastically affected by insurance issues that have not been addressed properly here for years.”

Race meetings understood to be facing the immediate loss of insurance cover are in Tipperary, Wicklow, Dublin, Meath, Carlow and Laois.

Mr O’Connor said without insurance cover point-to-point race meetings simply cannot proceed.

Niall Cronin, Irish Horse Racing Board spokesperson said the issue was affecting a lot of people in the industry.

Minister of State at the Department of Finance Seán Fleming, who is representing the Government on the issue, met the chief executives of the eight major insurers based in Ireland two weeks ago to ask them to expand their existing coverage in the Irish market.