Second all-weather track could be hit by budget considerations
Estimates of the cost are around €10 million with Tipperary the likely location
Dundalk is currently the only all-weather circuit in Ireland. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Horse Racing Ireland insists the building of a second all-weather track is a key element of its future plans although they conceded on Monday that budget considerations could yet affect any proposed development.
In March, racing’s ruling body stated it hoped to have a second all-weather circuit to accompany Dundalk up and running by 2021. Estimates of the cost of installing a new synthetic course have been put at up to €10 million.
An evaluation committee has been examining a number of expressions of interest in establishing such a facility although the HRI-owned Tipperary racecourse is widely believed to be favourite.
That committee had been expected to give a final recommendation at Monday’s HRI board meeting but that now isn’t expected until December.
Instead the board discussed at length the impact of the Minister for Finance’s decision to leave government funding to racing unchanged at €67.2 million in his budget earlier this month.
“2021 was our intention at the time and it’s still possible. But it’s subject to finance. We fund all our capital projects by way of borrowing. Our ability to do that is determined by the level of annual income we have.
“Because our fund is not going up this year that will put pressure on that. Most of today’s discussions were around the parameters for our own 2020 budget and beyond.
“Those issues won’t be settled until we come forward with our full budget for next year at the next board meeting in December,” HRI’s chief executive Brian Kavanagh said on Monday.
There have been calls from owners and trainers recently for more fixtures to cope with an increased problem in relation to horses being balloted out of over-subscribed races.
Extra races have already been put in place in Dundalk but the situation appears to underline calls for a second all-weather facility in Ireland.
“The desire remains to build a second all-weather but that will be subject to our long-term funding position.
“What the last few weeks shows is the demand for extra opportunities and our thinking is the still the same. But the board will have to decide if they have the resources to support it in terms of the grants that are needed.
“Our budget next year will be tighter. I still don’t have visibility on what our funding situation will be like beyond next year. The board will decide in December what choices need to be made.
“It’s still doable but the issue isn’t so much the timing of it but the ability to fund it. The organisation’s commitment is still there and it’s still a key element of our plans going forward,” Kavanagh stressed.