HRI Chairman Joe Keeling hoping for positive start to week

Texas Rock in action at Curragh prior to his appearance before Oireaachtas committee

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Joe Keeling, left, chairman, Horse Racing Ireland and Pat Byrne, chairman, Fairyhouse Racecourse.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Joe Keeling, left, chairman, Horse Racing Ireland and Pat Byrne, chairman, Fairyhouse Racecourse. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

 

With almost 140 runners, the final Curragh card of 2016 won’t lack for competition and with his owner’s hat on Horse Racing Ireland’s chairman Joe Keeling (right) will hope Texas Rock can provide him with a positive start to the week.

Keeling is due to appear before the Oireachtas cross-party Agriculture Committee at 2.30pm on Thursday in relation to Brian Kavanagh’s controversial reappointment for a third term as HRI’s chief executive.

It is anticipated other HRI board members will join Keeling before the committee.

Keeling has come under sustained fire for his role in Kavanagh’s reappointment.

The job wasn’t advertised and the appointment was approved by the Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed without the HRI board having discussed it first.

Racing’s ruling body has been severely criticised in recent weeks and Senator Paul Daly, the chairman of Kilbeggan racecourse, declared that “irreparable damage” has been done to racing’s image.

Prior to that, racing officials are remaining tight-lipped about any potential €4.8 million boost to racing in tomorrow’s budget.

In 2014 the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan pledged to make an extra €6 million available to the Horse & Greyhound Fund over the following three years.

Racing gets 80 per cent of fund money and an extra €E4.8 million was provided in the budgets for 2015 and 2016.

However while Noonan is still Minister for Finance there is a different make up to government now and a HRI official said: “Every year we have to wait and see what’s in the budget. No one knows what’s in it until it comes out.”

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