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NEWS: IRE Incentive aims to drive Irish-bred sales
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NEWS: IRE Incentive aims to drive Irish-bred sales
on 16 April 2021
ITM chief executive Charles O'Neill spoke to Mark Costello about the €1.25 million IRE Incentive

WHEN Mary’s Gift won the bumper at Fairyhouse on Tuesday evening for the Ward family from Kilcock, it marked the first National Hunt winner of the €10,000 IRE Incentive.

This new scheme was launched just a few weeks ago and it aims to put €1.25 million into the pockets of winning racehorse owners this year. The only requirement is that they must spend the €10,000 bonus at an Irish thoroughbred sale on an Irish-bred horse who is Foal Levy-compliant.

Orla Murtagh and Jackie Bolger have already won a bonus each, following flat maiden winners in their colours.

This week we asked Charles O’Neill, chief executive of Irish Thoroughbred Marketing, some questions about the scheme.

Q: Where did the idea come from?

A: It was first brought to Horse Racing Ireland [HRI] by prominent members of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association [ITBA] who wanted to see more being done to promote Irish bloodstock in the aftermath of Brexit and the effects of the pandemic. The idea was then discussed by HRI, the ITBA and ITM, and the final outcome is the IRE Incentive. It involves putting an extra €1.25 million into Irish racing in the form of €10,000 bonus payments.

Q: Which races will offer the bonus?

A: HRI’s racing department will identify 150 races, flat and jumps, during the course of the year which will offer a bonus €10,000 sales voucher to the winning owner. The races are predominantly maidens and auction races. It’s planned to mark the participating races in the Calendar. We expect 125 of the 150 races will be won by an owner eligible for the bonus.

Q: How do I know if my horse is eligible to win a bonus?

A: To qualify, the winning horse must carry the IRE suffix and be fully Foal Levy-compliant. The €10,000 sales voucher will be awarded to the winning owner whose name appears on the racecard and the voucher is valid until the end of the following year.

Q: How will the owners get and use the voucher?

A: There isn’t a physical voucher, though each winner will receive an email from HRI Owners congratulating them and confirming they have won a voucher. They will be directed to the ITM website where more details are available.

Goffs and Tattersalls will also have details on file of who holds the vouchers. When the owner intends to make a purchase at a sale and use their voucher, they just have to notify the sales company in advance and the value of the voucher will be applied against the purchase price.

Q: Can an owner use more than one voucher?

A: Each horse can only win one voucher but an owner can win multiple vouchers and they can all be used against a single purchase if they wish. The vouchers are strictly non-transferable. The registered owner must be the person who redeems it.

Q: Can a club or syndicate win a bonus?

A: There can be up to four members in a racing partnership and each registered owner will receive their percentage. With a racing club, the voucher will go to the registered agent who acts on behalf of members.

An individual bonus winner could also use their voucher against their share of a syndicate purchase. There will be a constant information flow between HRI and the sales companies, so there should be no hassle for owners at all when they go to use their vouchers at the sales.

Q: Can a voucher be used to buy any horse offered at an Irish sale?

A: The voucher can only be spent on horses who carry the IRE suffix and are Foal Levy-compliant. We are working with Weatherbys and the sales companies to have these horses flagged in catalogues. As you can imagine, the sales companies are fully supportive of the scheme as it promises to bring in more business.

Q: What involvement has the Foal Levy Committee in this scheme?

A: The Foal Levy committee have been very supportive and have provided additional funding to assist with the promotion of the scheme. The bonuses are fully funded by Horse Racing Ireland with no additional costs for owners or breeders.

Q: Is this just for 2021 or will it be long-term?

A: The long-term goal is to roll this out across Europe once funding is secured. For example, we could extend it to 125 races across Europe. There is work to be done with various bodies before that happens but it would be great to incentivise and reward international buyers who come here. We have already had interest from British trainers who want to come over and try to win a bonus.



“Myself and Orla were over the moon with the win of Create Belief at Gowran. She was bought for €12,000 and is owned by Orla. The icing on the cake was winning the €10,000 bonus under the IRE Incentive which means we can return to sales and reinvest further in the best bloodstock in the world which is available to purchase locally. I think the scheme is a very positive development which focuses on a domestic product which is proven to be world class” – Johnny Murtagh

“It’s great to win the voucher. It’s Laura’s horse so she’ll decide what to do with it, but we’ll have to invest again. These types of horses are there to be bought and there is value in these sales. Please God, it might be rewarding again for us. It really is a good scheme, especially for the small man to keep the ship afloat and keep going” – Vincent Ward

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