HORSE and pony racing could resume by the end of the month as the community expects to hear back from insurance underwriters next week.
Lack of insurance cover is the reason that the sector came to a halt at the end of May and this time last month, organisers of the sector sent over all the required information to underwriters and were hopeful of attaining a quote the following week. However, it has been a frustrating wait since, with some trainers and jockeys attending meetings in Scotland in the meantime and riders also gaining experience in the RACE Academy.
Antoinette Gallagher of the Midlands Horse and Pony Racing Association has been heavily involved in resolving the issue. Speaking to The Irish Field this week, Gallagher said: “We thought we would get a quote this week but apparently the lady that is to sign off on it has gone on holidays.
“It’s just been another delay and it has been frustrating but we’re still hoping we’ll have a quote by next week and once we can meet the terms and conditions, and fundraise the money as soon as we can, then we’re ready to rock on.”
The indications are that the quote given to the sector next week could be as high as €60,000, which would be a substantial hike from last year. HRI had stepped in to make a contribution last year and in this case, a bigger helping hand will be needed again.
Gallagher explained: “Pre covid our quotes were €12,000 and then last year for 11 meetings the quote was €24,500 so because of Brexit and because this is the only company that is going to quote us we reckon that’s what it probably is going to be around €50-60,000.
“HRI are going to give us a donation towards it, but they need to see the quote before they can decide how much they will contribute. Needless to say, we’ll need an awful lot more this year.”
Anything higher than those estimations could prove extremely difficult for the sector to return to action.
“To be honest if it’s €100,000, we’ve no hope,” said Gallagher. “Unless someone generous was to come in and donate it. It’s only races that are sponsored. It’s all volunteer, no one gets paid, it’s the money that the owners register for their horses that goes out as prize money. There’s no profit in it for anybody. That’s why we’d have great difficulty raising if it got up to €100,000.”
If all goes well next week, Gallagher expects a speedy enough turnaround in order to get the fixture list back on, with the Dingle Derby festival, due to take place in early August, an obvious aim for the sector.
“What the brokers have said to us, is that they don’t see it taking more than a few days to get sorted,” she said. “HRI already know we’re going to them for the money so we will need it available as fast as possible so we can pay the down payment and put up a payment plan for the rest if we need to.
“There shouldn’t be much delay. Dingle is all booked to go ahead so hopefully we get the quote next week. We’d love to have a meeting at the end of July just before Dingle, it just depends on how quickly this quote comes through but we’re ready to go as soon as possible, once we can reach the terms of the policy, which we think we will be able to. We don’t think we’ve any problems in doing what they’ve asked us to do.”