Tag Archives: turf club

Irish racing figures turn a corner

Bloodstock sales, Tote betting and racecourse attendances produced significant growth in 2011, figures issued by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI) on Monday, January 16.

This marks a positive upturn for the industry which had suffered severe contraction since 2007 across almost all areas. Growing success in overseas markets saw Irish-foaled horses exported to 35 countries compared to 34 in 2010. Bloodstock sales at public auction in Ireland were €81 million, up 19% from €68 million in 2010.
It is estimated that a further €112 million of bloodstock was sold by Irish consignors at auction in Britain and France and the total value of Irish-foaled exported horses sold at public auction was €156.5 million, up 6.5% from €146.9 million.

Racecourse attendances were up by 40,000 at 1.24 million compared to 1.20 million in 2010. The average attendance at race meetings in 2011 was 3,682, up 3% from 3,586. Tote betting was €51.1 million, up 11.3% from €45.9 million, with most of the increase generated by international co-mingling deals. While the number of new owners entering the market, an important indicator of the health of horse racing, emerged fractionally ahead at 777, just one up on 2010, total active ownership declined by 8% from 4,667 to 4,278. The total ownership figure, along with declines in a number of other key areas, show the limited nature of the recovery and the scale of the challenges which must be faced in coming years.

The average number of horses in training fell from 5,769 to 5,030, the lowest number in 10 years. Bookmakers’ betting on-course fell from €107.4 million to €97.5million, reflecting the twin challenges of the recession and online wagering, while prize-money fell from €46.0 million to €44.4 million and is now at its lowest level since 2002.

Irish-trained horses had remarkable success in the UK and overseas, with a 53% increase in prize money won abroad from €8.52 million in 2010 to €13 million. Irish trainers’ skills are reflected in the World Thoroughbred Rankings which show that 6 of the top 10 and 14 of the top 30 two-year-olds in the world in 2011 were Irish–trained.

Horse Racing Ireland CEO, Brian Kavanagh said: “The 2011 figures contain some welcome news for an industry which has endured heavy cutbacks and difficult trading conditions in recent years. The growth in racecourse attendance is particularly welcome given the pressure that leisure and retail markets generally have been under and I congratulate the racecourses who have worked hard to attract and retain race-goers. Strong bloodstock sales overall and growth in the value of exports for Irish-bred horses show that the reputation and value of the Irish thoroughbred remains high and this gives us confidence that this figure will continue to grow. The weakness of the horses in training figure, however, is a cause for real concern as this is the area where rural employment is most affected. This is one of the many challenges which must be addressed in the coming year.”

Key performance figures which grew:
Bloodstock Sales* up 19.1% to €81m
Tote betting up 11.3% to €51.1m
Irish-foaled exported horse sales up 6.5% to €156.5m
Total attendances up 3.3% to 1.24m
New owners up 0.1% to 777

Key performance figures which declined:
Average horses-in-training down 12.8% to 5,030
On-course bookmakers betting down 9.2% to €97.5m
Total number of owners down 8.3% to 4,278
Total prize money down 3.5% to €44.4m
Race sponsorship down 3% to €4.8m

Kavanagh continued: “Irish racing is showing resilience in the face of the recession but its capacity to re-build has been severely limited by successive cutbacks to its budget, totalling 26% since 2008. This is a direct consequence of low betting duties and the movement of betting revenues online and off-shore. The negative effect of this on prize money and investment has had damaging effects throughout the industry. Our prize money is at its lowest level for ten years, at a time when other major European racing countries are announcing prize money increases. The 2011 World Thoroughbred Rankings which were published last week, with six of the top ten and fourteen of the top thirty two-year-olds in the world Irish-trained show the potential which exists for real growth in this sector if we can get the structures and funding in place to do so. The Government’s recently announced plans, to extend the betting duty regime to remote betting and exchanges and to carry out a review of the industry, offer the prospect of a secure funding mechanism for racing and we look forward to working with Minister Coveney and his Department on this task.”

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€25,000 raised for Injured Jockeys Fund

Jog for Jockeys are delighted to announce that their inaugural 5k Jog for Jockeys which took place on the 21st of August earlier this year raised €25,000 for the Injured Jockeys Fund, the cheque was handed over by some of Ireland’s top Flat Jockeys at Naas races today (inc Kevin Manning, Pat Smullen, Wayne Lordan, Joseph O’Brien, etc).

Amongst the well known faces that ran the 5k earlier this year were:- Jockeys Barry Geraghty, Gary Carroll, Shane Foley, Andrew Duff, Andrew McNamara, Ben Curtis, Wayne Lordan and Nina Carberry. Trainers Gordon Elliot, Willie McCreery and Conor O’Dwyer. RTE’s Hector O’hEochagain and Shane O’Donoghue, Rugby’s Mick O’Driscoll. RACE students, Derrinstown, etc.

Organiser, Audrey O’Dwyer said:- “We’re were delighted to have raised €25,000 for a very worthy cause, the Injured Jockeys Fund, we had over 700 people take part at the 5 racecourses. We will be running the event again next year on Sunday 29th July and imagine that it will grow even more; so far the confirmed tracks are The Curragh, Leopardstown, and Limerick, the final courses will be confirmed soon. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the runners, the volunteers who assisted on the day and in the build up, the five racecourses that we ran on and all our Sponsors.”

Dr Adrian McGoldrick, Turf Club Senior Medical Officer said:- “Thank you to all who supported the ‘Jog for Jockeys’, by doing so you supported the bravest men and women in Irish sport. Every time they mount a horse to provide you and I with the enjoyment – the buzz and thrill – we all get from racing, they are putting their bodies on the line. What other sportsperson has a minimum of two ambulances and a doctor travelling behind them as they participate? Our riders travel at 35-40 miles per hour on a half ton of horsepower with the risk of falling at anytime from a height of three metres. I was delighted to take part at the Naas Jog for Jockeys along with Kildangan’s Joe Osborne, Trainers Dick Brabazon and Willie McCreery and lots of Jockeys and racing fans. There was a real feel good factor at the event and hopefully it will be a successful fundraiser for years to come.”

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Ballydoyle employees caught laying horses

The official press release:

The Referrals Committee, Judge Tony Hunt (in the Chair), J.R. Craigie and Valerie Cooper met at the Turf Club, The Curragh, Co. Kildare on 27th September 2011 to consider the referrals of Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge, stable employees of A.P. O’Brien, trainer, by Denis Egan, Chief Executive of the Turf Club, in respect of possible breaches of Rule 273(xiv), 4(b) which prohibits the holder of a racing establishment employee card to lay any horse under the care and control of the trainer for whom he is employed to lose a race with any person or betting organisation.

Evidence was heard from Chris Gordon, Turf Club Head of Security. The Committee also considered a number of admissions made by Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge during an interview with Chris Gordon and Hugh Hynes, Turf Club Integrity Analyst, on 10th May 2011 and a copy of the various transactions on both accounts. In addition, the Committee considered a written submission from A.P. O’Brien, trainer and employer of both individuals.

In his evidence Chris Gordon said that both he and Hugh Hynes met with Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge on 10th May 2011. This meeting was also attended by Frank Ward (solicitor representing both employees) and Jonathan Baum, Interpreter. He said that both were Japanese Nationals who had worked with A.P. O’Brien as exercise riders, in Gosuke Motoki’s case since 2003 and in Kaname Tsuge’s case since 2000 with the exception of a 10 month period in 2004.

He said that in Mr. Motoki’s case he fully accepted that he had layed the 34 horses trained by his employer between the period 11th May 2007 and 12th May 2010 as set out in his betting records which had been supplied by Betfair to the Turf Club. Mr. Motoki accepted that this was in contravention of the Rules of Racing but said he had no knowledge of these rules until he was informed of the prohibition on laying horses by Mr. O’Brien in an insert in his December 2010 pay slip. He said that he had a poor grasp of the English language and that both he and his colleague Kaname Tsuge tended not to mix with other members of staff at Ballydoyle because of this.

Mr. Gordon went through the various lay bets (see attached schedule) and summarized Mr. Motoki’s transactions as follows:

Number of horses layed to lose 34

Amount won €1,369.00

Amount lost €1,415.65

Loss on transactions €46.55

Mr. Gordon said that Kaname Tsuge had accepted that he layed 61 horses trained by A.P. O’Brien to lose between 25th March 2007 and 29th October 2010. Mr. Tsuge accepted that this was in contravention of the Rules of Racing and also said that he had no knowledge of these rules until he was informed of the prohibition on laying horses in an insert in his December 2010 pay slip. Like Mr. Motoki, he had a poor grasp of the English language. Mr. Gordon also said that Mr. Tsuge made no effort to cover up what he was doing and even used Ballydoyle, Rosegreen as the registered address on his Betfair account.

Chris Gordon also went through Kaname Tsuge’s lay bets and summarized his transactions as follows:

Number of horses layed to lose 61

Amount won €5,101.19

Amount lost €4,500.84

Profit on transactions €600.35

He accepted that in both cases there was a clear lack of knowledge of the Rule. He said that there was a lack of guidance from the employer and that the language barrier also contributed to the problem. Mr. Gordon said that in his view both Mr. Motoki and Mr. Tsuge were gambling in the majority of cases by laying the Ballydoyle horses rather than using inside information.

Mr. Gordon then outlined how the Turf Club became aware of the transactions. He said that he was contacted by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) after they investigated similar lay transactions on British racing following information supplied by Betfair. He said that Betfair knew that both employees were connected with Ballydoyle but despite this they hadn’t informed the Turf Club. As a result the Turf Club requested information from Betfair and the information relating to both accounts was then furnished.

In conclusion he said that both Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge co-operated fully with the investigation.

In his written submission, A.P. O’Brien confirmed that both Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge were employed by him as exercise riders. He said that he trusted them utterly and held them in the highest regard. He also said that he found them to be absolutely honest and conscientious in all their dealings with him and their fellow employees. He also outlined details of changes that have now been made to ensure that all employees are aware that they cannot lay horses or pass information of any kind to third parties. He said that he accepted the conclusion reached by the Turf Club Head of Security that both individuals were gambling rather than deriving an unfair advantage from the availability of inside information.

In his plea, Frank Ward reiterated many of the points already raised and highlighted his client’s lack of knowledge of the Rules, the language barrier and the fact that both were gambling rather than using inside information.

Having considered the evidence, the Committee noted that this was only the second case of its type to be dealt with by the Turf Club. They said that their main concern was to ensure that the integrity of racing was maintained to the highest standards and that they regarded the practice of stable employees laying horses to lose as a most serious offence. They said that in an ordinary situation, offences such as this would warrant a disqualification but in this case a disqualification would not be imposed in view of a number of mitigating factors. Firstly, they accepted that both Mr. Motoki and Mr. Tsuge had no knowledge that what they were doing was wrong. However, this didn’t make what they did right. Secondly, both made no attempt to conceal their addresses and in Mr. Tsuge’s case he actually used Ballydoyle, Rosegreen as his registered address with Betfair. They also noted that the bets were modest in general and that there were many other horses layed by them from other stables so in effect there was a pattern of activity which indicated that both accounts were “gambling”. The Committee noted that the laying of Aidan O’Brien’s horses appeared to be based on perceptions rather than solid information. The Committee also noted the language difficulties. Having taken all these factors into account the Committee imposed a fine of €2,000 on both Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge and ordered that both pay costs of €350.

The Committee was critical of Betfair and in the manner that the information was brought to the attention of the Turf Club. They felt that it should have been furnished much earlier under the Memorandum of Understanding and that the trigger for receiving the information shouldn’t have been a request from the Turf Club following the BHA investigation. They said it was imperative that there is closer co-operation between Betfair and the Turf Club in future and that where Betfair has any suspicion that it be brought to the Turf Club’s attention at the earliest opportunity.

The case was presented by Conal Boyce, Wilkinson & Price Solicitors, Naas, Co. Kildare.

Gosuke Motoki and Kaname Tsuge were represented by Frank Ward, Frank Ward & Company Solicitors, Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7.