The largest prizemoney pot in Irish racing history will be up for grabs in 2017 after confirmation that €60.5 million is in place for next year’s action.
Horse Racing Ireland has released its 2017 budget and next year's prizemoney will trump the fund that was in place at the height of the economic boom in 2008 by €100,000.
The new minimum value for any race run in Ireland will be €10,000, an increase of €1,000, and HRI has indicated new base value increases will be targeted at race types where the largest section of the horse population, and the majority of owners, compete.
That means likely boosts to lower grade handicaps and ‘point of entry’ races such as flat maidens, bumpers, maiden hurdles and Beginners Chases.
With widespread concerns about competition levels, especially over jumps, racing’s ruling body has guaranteed at least one race worth €15,000 will be programmed each race day, with at least 75 per cent of fixtures containing a race worth at least €20,000.
HRI believe this will help smaller racecourses in particular to promote race days and such values are also intended to give more opportunities to smaller owners and trainers.
The 0.5 per cent levy paid by bookmakers in the under-pressure on-course market will be halved and HRI has indicated bookmaker charges will be further reduced in future.
A €9.6 million integrity service budget for 2017 includes €1.9 million of capital expenditure, which includes previously announced laboratory equipment for racing’s forensic unit, while point to points will see increased grants of €6,500 per meeting and a 55 per cent increase in prize money.
Grants of €1.35 million for the Irish Equine Centre and almost €1.1 million for Irish Thoroughbred Marketing have also been approved.
"The budget has an emphasis on improving the situation for many participants in the industry who have been struggling in recent years and is designed to deliver a positive impact throughout the country," said HRI's chief executive, Brian Kavanagh.