Prize-money in Ireland will reach a record figure of €63.3 million next year after a decision taken by Horse Racing Ireland at a board meeting this week.
An increase in prize-money of €2.2m is contained in HRI's budget for 2018, which was announced yesterday.
Eight extra fixtures, compared with the orginal list for 2017, and the new two-day Dublin Festival of Racing at Leopardtown in February, will form part of the prize-money initiative
Prize-money for point-to-point racing will be increased by 23 per cent, while there will be continued capital funding for racecourses, currently undergoing redevelopent and new projects, and a nine per cent increase in funding for the Turf Club's integrity services.
THE BUDGET IN BRIEF
Prize-money up €2.2m to record figure of €63.3m
Integrity services expenditure up nine per cent to €9.1m
Point-to-point funding up 23 per cent
Continued capital funding for racecourse development
Increased investment for HRI Ownership Departmentto include promotional work in Britain and US
Increased investment in marketing and communications
Although €9.6m was allocated for integrity services in 2017 that figure was not fully utilised by the Turf Club, whose chief executive Denis Egan expalined yesterday: "We've been allotted €9.1m for next year, which is an increase of nine per cent on what we actually spent this year but less than what we looked for.
"We understand the situation as there was no increase in government funding for the industry for next year."
The integrity services funding will include provision for the setting up of an injury management database and the installation of CCTV cameras in stable yards at a number of racecourses.
Brian Kavanagh, CEO of HRI, said: "Although there was no increase in funding for the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund for 2018, the board has opted to invest further in policies that will develop and grow the industry.
"This is possible as we have made savings through internal efficiencies and will be looking at making more changes, both within HRI and with the other bodies we work with. We also received an increase in media rights revenue."
Kavanagh added: "We will be making further investment in HRI's ownership department and increasing our promotional activities in Britain and in the US as well as increasing investment in marketing and communications.
According to Kavanagh, the priority for 2018 will be to develop sustainable income streams for the industry and to work with government to put in place a long-term permanent funding basis for the sector.
He said: "The measures announced in our budget are sustainable in the short-term only as the result of prudence in previous years. However, in the absence of a funding solution, these programmes are not sustainable in the long-term."
There will be increased investment in staff, training and welfare projects, together with the funding provided to Race, comprising an overall investment of €1.4m in industry training and education."
Welcoming the increase in funding for point-to-points, Gerry Kelleher, chairman of the Point-To-Point Handlers Association, said: "It's a step in the right direction and a very positive move for point-to-pointing to get increased support for races other than the four- and five-year-old maidens."