IRISH racing will receive €70.4 million in Government funding for 2022, over €6 million less than allocated in last year’s Budget but over €3 million ahead of the figure for 2019 and 2020.
Horse Racing Ireland’s interim chief executive Suzanne Eade said HRI had looked for increased funding in its pre-Budget submission to the Department of Agriculture. “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 will now go before the HRI board next week to discuss the industry’s priorities for 2022. “The other executives and I will talk about the things we feel should take precedence and we will have to see if the board agrees. Then we will factor all that into a budget which will be presented back to the board in December and published, pending their approval.”
Just before Covid-19 stopped racing in March 2020, HRI unveiled a five-year Strategic Plan which was based on the annual Government grant rising steadily from €67 million to €98 million by 2024. Under that vision, the 2022 grant should be €84 million rather than the actual €70 million.
“The Strategic Plan is being revised,” Eade said. “The world has changed since it was published but we have already delivered on many things in the Plan. We will have to see where we go from here though it is likely we will not ‘get to scale’ in some of our aspirations.”
Eade said that bringing back racegoers in large numbers to the track was certainly a post-Covid priority. “Of course we want to get people back racing in a safe, fun way. We want to get the atmosphere back on the big days, like we saw during Irish Champions Weekend last month.”
The interim CEO also welcomed news of €1.7 million in funding for the redevelopment of the Irish Equine Centre, a project which has been delayed by Covid. News that funding has also been made available for the creation of the Gambling Regulatory Authority was also welcomed by Eade.
RACING’S ANNUAL GRANT
2014: €43 million
2015: €54 million
2016: €59 million
2017: €64 million
2018: €64 million
2019: €67.2 million
2020: €67.2 million
2021: €76.8 million
2022: €70.4 million
MORE ON THIS STORY IN THE IRISH FIELD NEXT WEEKEND