Irish horse racing’s biggest sponsor, the Irish European Breeders’ Fund (EBF), will increase its race prize-money contribution to €2.5m ($2.7m) for the 2020 season in support of the sport during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The organisation, funded by contributions from Irish stallion farms, regularly makes annual contributions to Irish racing of over €2m per year.
In return, the Irish EBF gets race and race series title rights across a raft of flat and national hunt events, including the Foran Equine Irish EBF Auction series for two year-olds and the new Irish EBF Ballyhane Stakes, worth €200,000.
According to John O’Connor, chairman of Irish EBF, the increase will assist the industry’s national governing body, Horse Racing Ireland, “in trying to replace the lost opportunities for all the participants in Irish racing during the Covid-19 suspension of racing.”
O’Connor added: “We will encourage all of our co-sponsors to continue to support the Irish racing industry at this crucial time when the industry is facing its greatest ever challenge.”
The prize-money injections from Irish EBF will support the restart of Irish horse racing on 8 June at the Naas racetrack, with the country’s first Classics in 2020 – the Irish 2,000 Guineas and 1,000 Guineas – to be staged at The Curragh on June 12-13.
All meetings will be run without spectators, with all participants and officials committing to health screening 24 hours before the event and to on-site temperature checks.
Horse racing has already restarted in France, with the UK planning a return on June 1, in line with the UK government’s provisional timetable for the return of sport.
Earlier this month, SportBusiness confirmed that banking and wealth management group Investec, the title sponsor of the Epsom Derby and the Derby Festival, was in talks to reduce its fee because the Derby Festival had been scaled back from two days to one day.