Media Centre

Irish breeding industry
is 'on its knees'

JOE Foley, chairman of the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders' Association, yesterday described the Irish racing and breeding industry as ‘on its knees' following the Irish government's decision to reduce their contribution to the Horse and Greyhound Racing Fund by 13 per cent.

Only last month, renowned economist and former government minister Alan Dukes released a report commissioned by the ITBA which stated that a significant cut in funding would have "a disastrous impact on the racing and breeding industry." In his conclusion, Dukes was adamant that government funding must "remain to ensure survival of this very successful industry."

Joe Foley

Joe Foley: "cut of 13 per cent could prove to be the last straw"

  PICTURE: Mark Cranham 

Yesterday, Foley expressed his disappointment at the proposed cuts, which were released during Brian Lenehan's 2010 budget speech on Wednesday, saying: "The announcement of a further cut of approximately 13 per cent could prove to be the last straw for the Irish bloodstockand racing industry. Over one quarter of racing's budget has been slashed in the last two years and this latest cut could prove to be catastrophic for our industry.

"In a budget touted by the Minister of Finance as one with an emphasis on job creation and protection, his measures will surely lead to significant further job losses in the bloodstock industry."

He added: "As a €1billion industry that is a major exporter, an intensive employer in rural areas and an industry in which the Irish are world leaders, it is very disappointing that our current government has effectively wrecked the efforts of many people over the last 30 years to grow our industry to be recognised throughout the world.

"Having lost the stallion tax exemption in 2008 which is now having a major negative effect on the stallion industry, and with Irish sales companies reporting approximately 65 per cent aggregate falls in the last two years, the breeding industry in Ireland is on its knees.

"Our only hope for our industry lies in the government's planned overhaul of the betting industry and it is to be hoped that a proper funding mechanism be put in place, as exists in all other countries, so that the Irish Horse industry is not at the whim of various governments in the future."


Henry Beeby: "it's a short-sighted view"


Goffs' chief executive Henry Beeby was similarly disappointed with Wednesday's announcement, saying: "It's a short-sighted view in that it does not take into account the massive contribution that the Irish racing and breeding industry makes to the Irish economy."

Although expecting the government's contribution to be reduced, bloodstock economist John Lynam was also taken back with the severity of the cuts.

"If they were going reduce social spending, they were hardly going to leave racing alone," he said. "But I didn't expect it to be cut by that much. It will have a very bad effect on racing and bloodstock, and it's possible that some of the big players could move out ofIreland as the cost of putting together a high-class racing stable or stud has remained the same, if not become more expensive.

"Technology has sidestepped the traditional routes of taxing racing and the time has now come for theBritish and Irish governments to look at the money that has gone out of racing through exchanges and to find a way of getting some of it back in."




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