Horse Racing Ireland see funding reduced by over €6 million in budget

HRI chief Suzanne Eade confirms strategic plan will have to be revised

Horse Racing Ireland’s budget has been reduced by over €6 million in the budget. Photograph: Getty Images

Irish racing got a budget blow on Tuesday with the Government opting to reduce its funding to the sector by over €6 million.

Horse Racing Ireland had made a pre-budget submission for an increase on the €76.8 million it received for 2021.

However, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe’s budget announced on Tuesday outlined details of how racing will get €70.4 million for 2022.

That is €3 million more than what was given out in both 2019 and 2020 but still represents a setback for a sport and industry which prior to the start of the Covid-19 pandemic had revealed a five-year strategic plan that revolved around Government aid rising to €98 million by 2024.

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HRI's new chief executive, Suzanne Eade, was heavily involved in drawing up that strategic plan and she confirmed the figures on Tuesday evening.

“We pushed for higher funding because racing is delivering. All through Covid, our key performance indicators have been good. We managed the situation well and we even grew the public interest in racing.

“We put in a very good case but we were advised that the budget 2020 grant [€67.2 million] was the baseline figure, and not the €76.8 million we got in budget 2021, which included special Covid-19 support measures. It’s just a tough time for the whole country but we will keep driving for more.” Eade told the Irish Field.

Eade also confirmed that HRI’s strategic plan will have to be revised, although she said many elements of it had already been delivered.

One of the most high-profile capital expenditure elements of that plan is the building of a new all-weather track at the HRI owned Tipperary racecourse.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

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