FUNDING for the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board (IHRB) will reach €10.3 million in 2022.

This compares with €9.4 million and €9.2 million for 2019 and 2020 respectively but the IHRB is facing significantly higher costs in 2022 due to increased number of fixtures, more testing and the appointment of 12 authorised officers who have the power to inspect any equine premises.

At the end of a year which saw Irish racing accused of not doing enough in the areas of drug-testing and equine welfare, the Minister for Agriculture recently warned all industry participants to step up their efforts to “not only protect but enhance” racing’s “fragile” reputation.

This week Horse Racing Ireland released some details on how it plans to spend its €70 million Government grant in 2022. The grant is €6 million lower than in 2021 but more than €3 million higher than in either of the previous two years.

A sum of €13.4 million has been earmarked for “integrity and equine welfare”. Asked for more detail, a HRI spokesperson told The Irish Field €10.3 million of this figure would go to the IHRB, leaving €3.1 million for equine welfare supports. Of that €3.1 million, €2.2 million will go to the Irish Equine Centre.

Point-to-points will also receive additional funding in 2022. There is €2.5 million allocated to this sector for 2022 and this includes maintaining the grant of €7,500 for each hunt which stages a fixture. HRI also contributes to the prize money for all races.

Prize money on the track continues to edge closer to 2019 levels. A total of €64.8 million will be paid out in 2022. This is up 6.75% on the 2021 budget and just 1.8% behind the €66 million paid out in 2019. HRI has confirmed to The Irish Field that, while the average race purse will increase next year, the minimum race value will remain at €10,000.

The IRE Incentive Scheme, which pays out a €10,000 sales voucher to the owners of Irish-bred winners of selected races in Ireland and some abroad, will continue. Funding for the scheme will increase from €1.1 million to €1.3 million, though this money has to be spent by the recipients on Irish-bred horses at Irish sales.

Charles O’Neill of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing said: “We’re going to work with the breeding industry to build on the success of the scheme to develop a race programme across Ireland and Britain for 2022 which helps promote Ireland as the leading centre for thoroughbred breeding.”

The IRE Incentive is open to all Irish-bred horses who are Foal Levy-compliant.

HRI also says it plans to increase investment in attracting new owners and retaining existing owners, plus more spend on industry education and training.

The racing authority has also set aside €4.8 million for racecourses who wish to improve their infrastructure. Tracks can get 40% grant aid from HRI if they can raise the remaining finance themselves.

Suzanne Eade, HRI chief executive, said: “This is a strong budget which has its focus on restoring prize money, supporting growth for those earning their living in racing and breeding, investing in integrity and equine welfare, as well as a racecourse capital programme which is centred on ensuring appropriate industry facilities.”