Cautious budget means tighter 2020 for Horse Racing Ireland

Minister for Finance again allocated €80 million to the Horse and Greyhound Fund

Horse Racing Ireland’s Brian Kavanagh says he wasn’t surprised by Minister Donohue’s cautious approach. Photograph: Inpho

Horse Racing Ireland has put the government's budget decision to leave the sport's funding unchanged at €67.2 million in the context of Brexit and what it termed a "stand still situation."

Any hopes within racing of a similar funding rise to last year's €3.2 million were dashed on Tuesday when the Minister for Finance Pascal Donohue once again allocated €80 million to the Horse and Greyhound Fund for 2020.

Those hopes had grown on the back of increased revenue generated on the back of a doubling of the betting tax rate in last year’s budget.

On Tuesday night HRI's chief executive Brian Kavanagh said he wasn't surprised by Minister Donohue's cautious approach.


“All this is framed in a Brexit contest. We have long terms plans to develop the industry and they will need funding.

“But the main short terms issue is Brexit and in the context of the threat of a no-deal Brexit it was never going to be a year of initiatives,” he said.

“It’s a stand still situation. We’ll have to take this away and look at the implications for our own budget. It will make the budget process tricker and tighter.

“But the more immediate priority is to get the country, and the equine industry, through the next few months,” he added.

Kavanagh also said HRI will be examining various Brexit assistance funds set up by the state to see if some equine businesses will qualify.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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