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Irish Racing Industry "Faces Severe Threat"

Friday, 6th November 2009

The Irish horse racing & breeding industry is “under severe threat” according to a report commissioned by the Irish Thoroughbred Breeders Association & undertaken by economist & former government minister Alan Dukes. The report into the economic impact of the industry “stresses the importance of the government protecting funding for the industry” & was published in Dublin overnight when Dukes “claimed that a significant reduction in funding for the Horse & Greyhound fund, proposed by a government advisory group in advance of the budget on December 9, would have “a disastrous impact on the racing & breeding industry should it be implemented” summarised racingpost.com. In July a group of economists recommended “major cuts in all aspects of Irish government spending due to the current financial turmoil” including a reduction in the H&G Fund of over €16 million (A$25,6m); the fund, which amounted to €76 million (A$121.6m) in 2008, was reduced to €68 million (A$108.8m) for this year & subsequently reduced by a further €1.5 million (A$2.4m) of which €1.2 million (A$1.92m) came out of Horse Racing Ireland's budget. So far this year “prize-money for horse racing has been reduced by €6.6 million (A$10.56m), a drop of 11% on last year” & figures quoted in the ITBA report “claim there has been a reduction of up to 20% in employment levels in the industry this year & the volume of bloodstock sales has dropped by approximately 65% in the last 2 years”. The report also states foal production in Ireland “will fall by 35% next year”. Dukes warned: “In the face of the these negative trends, any further reduction in the relatively modest level of net state support to the industry would be seriously counter productive, particularly when support in our main competitor countries, the UK & France, remains at a much higher level than that prevailing in Ireland.” Dukes added: “The conclusion of this analysis is abundantly clear; a relatively modest amount of state funding has been very successfully leveraged by the industry to produce a strong dynamic impulsion. This compares very favourably with the returns from much higher levels of support to other areas of economic activity. Government funding must remain to ensure survival of this very successful industry & to continue its growth into the future as one of Ireland's most dynamic agricultural sectors.”

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